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Every man's mind is a museum, the storehouse of 
precious memories. Treasures of gold and silver, and 
some, may be, of baser metal, with here and there a 
souvenir of sorrow, graven as it were in jet, lie hidden 

All serve as landmarks of life's journeyings, all bear 
witness to the vicissitudes of fortune. 

Generally it is a private collection. The museum 
is open to the public neither on week-days nor Sun- 
days. Its contents are of no value or interest what- 
ever to any but the custodian himself, and, perhaps, 
a few bosom friends associated with him in those 
silent memories. His old chums are ever pleased to 
wander at his side through the dim galleries of the 
past. Pausing before some particular treasure, they 
re-enact the life-scene which the relic, sere and yellow 
with age, recalls. And they are gratified. 

It is only when one's mind is crowded with reminis- 
cences of men and women and events that have helped 
to make contemporary history that he is tempted, 
either voluntarily or by request, to endeavour, as best 
he may, to catalogue and chronicle facts and incidents 
touching the lives of famous people and their works. 


Only then may he be privileged to open his museum 
to the world at large. 

It is in such circumstances that the author of the 
present volume, with some temerity, as he confesses, 
ventures upon the task to which he has been invited. 
Adequately to tell the story of " The Savoy " might 
tax the skill of pen more expert than his, whose hand 
has been trained to wield the conductor's b&ton or 
whose quill has usually been c$dled into requisition for 
the simpler purpose of notating crochets and quavers. 
And so, in undertaking that which is to him a labour 
of love, the historian would ask indulgent readers not 
to look for literature in his book, but simply a faithful, 
unpretentious record of facts and figures which will 
speak for themselves far more eloquently than lies 
within his power as recorder. Many a delightful quip 
and merry jest, not borrowed like those of poor Jack 
Point from the works of Hugh Ambrose, but of purely 
local origin, although not included in the famous 
Savoy Classics, have long since become public pro- 
perty. Nevertheless, the fond and faithful Savoyard 
who, in the following pages, essays to relate his per- 
sonal experiences hopes to bring forth from his private 
store a few choice specimens of Gilbertian wit and 
Sullivanesque humour that shall not be described by 
the vulgar as " chestnuts." But if, perchance, some 
anecdote herein related has been told before, will it 
not bear retelling ? Is not an excellent " chestnut " 
refreshing fruit to all who love to listen to a good yarn 
well spun ? 

And thus our present author will seek to brighten 


his own dull and unaccustomed efforts by echoing 
the mirthful sound of voices that have so often glad- 
dened the world, but now — are still. 

Whilst as litterateur he fears to fail, as raconteur he 
hopes to succeed. 

Just one more prefatory appeal before our Musical 
Director starts his overture. 

The act of committing to paper reminiscences so 
inestimably precious to himself must touch a tender 
chord in the soul of the narrator. Carried away by 
the bitter-sweet retrospect of thirty years' familiar 
intercourse with the founders of the Savoy — all now 
at rest — he may at intervals appear to express his 
thoughts in what his late friend, Sir William Gilbert, 
described as Heart-foam. 

What then ? If his admiration, his affection for his 
departed leaders and colleagues blinds him at moments 
to a due sense of proportion, shall not such emotion 
he held excusable ? 

It is out of the fulness of his heart his mouth will 
seem to speak. 





A Triangle— -The virtue of three — The Three Musketeers and the Three 
Savoyards — Brotherhood of the Savoy— Mrs. D'Oyly Carte— 
Dedication of this book pp. 


Conjunction of Gilbert, Sullivan, and D'Oyly Carte— Gilbert's early work 
— Fairy comedies— " Pygmalion and Galatea " — " Sweethearts " — 
" Bab Ballads "—Sullivan at Chapel Royal— His first song— Dis- 
ciple of Mendelssohn — At the R.A Ji. — Mendelssohn scholarship— 
Leipsic— " Tempest ■• music — D'Oyly Carte's early career— His 
musical agency— Royalty Theatre — "Thespis" — First night at 
Gaiety Theatre compared with Savoy premiers pp. 8-21 



Trial by Jury" — Fred Sullivan— Nelly Bromley— Penley— Compton 
Benefit— Nellie Farren Benefit— Gilbert's appearance in "Trial 
by Jury" pp. 22-30 



"Trial by Jury "(continued) — Comedy Opera Company — Opera Comique 
Theatre — " The Sorcerer " — Selecting first G. and S. Company— 
The old school and the new • . . . pp. 31-36 


Selection of principal artists — Gilbert's musical knowledge— Mrs. 
Howard Paul — George Grossmith — Rutland Barrington — Original 
cast of •• Sorcerer " — Press opinions—" Dora's Dream " — " The 
Spectre Knight" pp. 37-43 


Building " H.M.S. Pinafore "—Sullivan's versatility— Production of 
" H.M.S. Pinafore " — Cast — Gilbert as stage-manager— Clever 
draughtsman — Rehearsals — " Gagging " prohibited — Sullivan at 
rehearsals pp. 44-54 


Fran9ois Cellier succeeds his brother Alfred as Musical Director — Comedy 
Opera Company's quarrel with D'Oyly Carte— In the law courts 
— Fracas at Opera Comique — Richard Barker injured — Directors 
at Bow Street Police Court— Gilbert, Sullivan, and D'Oyly Carte's 
visit to America to secure dramatic rights — Michael Gunn, locum 
tenens— Richard Barker's Children's Company in " H M.S. Pina- 
fore" pp. 55-64 



" The Pirates of Penzance " in America— Gilbertian darts—" Pirates " 
produced at Opera Comique — The critics . pp 65-71 



Pirates of Penzance " copyright performance— Fred Billington — 
Richard Mansfield— Federici— John Le Hay— Cast of "The 
Pirates " in New York — American Musical Trades Union — " TJ.S.S. 
Pinafore " — German " Pinafore " — Marion Hooi — Sir George 
Power — Julia Gwynne— Emily Cross . . pp. 72-82 


D'Oyly Carte plans new theatre — The Aesthetic craze — " Patience " — 
Burnand and Du Maurier's creations — " The Colonel " — Durward 
Lely — Frank Thornton — Alice Barnett — Leonora Braham — " Pa- 
tience " rehearsals and production — British play-goers — Success 
of " Patience " — Lyric gems from " Patience " . pp. 83-92 


Building of the Savoy— Testing fire-extinguishers—" Star-Harden 
Grenades " — D'Oyly Carte's address to the public . pp. 93*99 


Opening of the Savoy — False prophets— Electric lighting — No 

Strike of incandescents— A Gilbertian riddle—" Patience " trans- 
planted to Savoy— Inexhaustible power of •• The Three "—The or- 
chestra — The bandsmen and Gilbert's satire — Renewed triumph 
of "Patience" pp. 100-106 




Iolantbe "—Beers delighted— M.P.'s enthusiastic— Captain Shaw— 
Procession of Peers— Gorgeous spectacle — Sky-borders abolished 
— " Iolanthe " in America— Carte's enterprise— 4 ' Iolanthe " and 
the "gods" — Charles Manners as the Sentry — Press notices — 
An unique criticism pp. 107-117 


"Princess Ida" — Poet's imagination — Solomon, Shakespeare, and 
Shaw — Tennyson's " Princess " — Gilbert and old-fashioned bur- 
lesques — " The Princess " at Olympic—- A Yorkshire critic — An old 
lady's view of " H.M.S. Pinafore " — Costumes and scenery — 
Premiers of "Princess Ida"— Sir Arthur Sullivan's illness- 
Leonora Braham'8 success — Henry Bracey — Times'. critic on 
Princess Ida" pp. x 18-126 



Theatrical first nights — Professional play-goers— Premiers Savoyards 
— Establishment of the " queue " — Refining influence of " Gilbert 
and Sullivan" — Taming of the Hooligan — Gallery and pit con- 
certs—First nights behind the curtain — Gilbert recalls first night 
at the Olympic pp. 127-134 


Away from the Savoy — Gilbert and Sullivan's leisure hours— Disquisition 
on their aims andachievements — Townsparrows and eagles — Gilbert 
and Sullivan's lofttestproductions— Sullivan's devotion to home and 
the country — A " disciple of the beautiful " — Sullivan's highest 
inspirations — Another type of English composer — A Chapel-Royal 
story — Sullivan's musk, sacred and secular — Plagiarism — Sulli- 
van's candour — Comic song as church " Voluntary " — Sullivan 
and his critics pp. 135-148 



Sir Arthur Sullivan in private life — Alone with the composer— His 
leading characteristics — Society's idol — Sullivan's visit to the 
Riviera — His entourage— Work and recreation in the sunny 

i's pets— Parrot stories— Arthur Sullivan knighted 

PP- 149-135 


Revival of " The Sorcerer " — Success exceeds that of original produc- 
tion — Rutland Barrington as a singer — Paper battle between 
Cellier and Barrington — Changes in " Sorcerer " cast — Revival of 
" Trial by Jury " — Durward Lely and Florence Dysart — Altered 
taste of play-goers . 156-163 

INTERLUDE pp. 164-166 









"the mikado " 

False prophets — A foreign subject— Japanese village at Knightsbridge 
— Queen Victoria's gift to Emperor of Japan — English society 
becomes Japanesey— Gilbert discovers new material — The author 
originates his leading dramatis personae — No character taken from 
Japanese history — No Samurais introduced and why — A Japanese 
dancer and a Geisha engaged to coach the Savoy Company — 
Savoyards transformed into Japs — Amusing rehearsals — "The 
Three little Maids " excel as students— Costumes and accessories 
—Cast of " The Mikado "—The critics— Punch's view of " The 
Mikado" — George Grossmith's "understandings" — Success of 
" The Mikado " in London and New York— Sullivan entertains 
Prince of Wales at dinner — H.R.H. listens to performance of the 
opera through telephone pp. 185-198 


Savoy secrecy — Press reporters eager for news — A Pall Mall Gazette 
squib— Heard in the stalls — Interview with Gilbert — Dr. Louis 
Engel of The World — His advance notice of Sullivan's music 
to forthcoming opera — More rumours concerning new opera — 
Great demand for seats for " Ruddygore " — High society join in pit 
and gallery queues — In New York, tickets for first night sold by 
auction pp. 199-210 



Distinguished audience on first night — Reason why " Ruddygore " has 
not been revived — Enormous outlay — " Ruddygore " not univer- 
sally approved — " Boos " — Were they intended for the opera or 
for Lord Randolph Churchill, who was conspicuous in the stalls ? — 
"Ruddygore" a skit on Transpontine melodrama — Gilbert's 
humour misunderstood — Offence given to both English and French 


Navy men-— Gilbert challenged to duel:—" Ruddygore " becomes 
"Ruddigore" — Sullivan's music greatly praised — Gilbert's re- 
marks about " Ruddigore " in speech made at dinner of O.P. Club 

PP. 2II-220 



The story of " Ruddigore, or the Witch's Curse " — Superb mounting 
— The acting — Jessie Bond and Durward Lely • pp. 221-240 


Recreations— River trips — Celebration dinners and suppers 

pp. 241-248 


Series of revivals— " H.M.S. Pinafore "— Geraldine Ulmar— J. G. 
Robinson — Rosina Brandram's little Buttercup — A Bermuda 
bumboat woman — Sydney Smith Dickens — Dinah's Tea-party — 
" The Pirates of Penzance "— " The Mikado "—Rutland Barring- 
ton's secession — Barrington opens St. James's Theatre — Success 
of Savoy revivals pp. 249-254 


"The Yeomen of the Guard " — Gilbert curbs his Pegasus — Gilbert and 
Sullivan's masterpiece — Sullivan's favourite opera — The lyrics — 
Scene between Phoebe, Meryll, and Wilfred Shadbolt— The two 
Savoy Jessies^-Sullivan's puzzle in setting " I have a song to sing, 
O "—Triumph of musical coiistrudion— Peppermint Bulls'-Eyes 
at stage rehearsal— Tales of two Jessies • .pp. 255-269 


The value of contrast studied by the Three Savoyards — Gilbert as true 
portrait-painter and as caricaturist— The author's pet hobby — 
Gilbert resumes rdle of Jester — Collaborators mentally transport 
themselves from the Tower of London to the sunny south — Gilbert 
discovers characters for Venetian opera — Introduces them to 
Sullivan — Gondolieri and Contadine— The plot outlined — Original 
cast of " The Gondoliers " — George Grossmith's name missing 
from Savoy bills for the first time — Return of Rutland Barrington 
— Enthusiastic reception of " The Gondoliers " — Sullivan's difficult 
task in composing " The Gondoliers " — Press notices — A captious 
critic — Evidence of " Gondoliers' " success— Visits of Royalty to 
the Savoy — Queen Victoria's Command Performance at Windsor 
Castle— Chappell & Co.'s first issue of " Gondoliers " score, etc. — 
Sullivan tells how he unconsciously annoyed sensitive member of 
audience pp. 270-285 


The historian's wiser diplomacy — The rift in the lute— A storm in a tea* 
cup grows into a serious tempest — The Three Savoyards quarrel 
and go to law — Casus beUi : a carpet — Dissolution of partnership 
—Gilbert collaborates with Alfred CeUier on " The Mountebanks " 
— Gilbert's speech at O. P. Club's dinner . . pp. 286-291 


D'Oyly Carte's difficult position — Sullivan collaborates with Sydney 
Grundy— Production of "Nan ten Girl" — Carte's generalship— 
" The Vicar of Bray " revived—" Mountebanks " produced at the 
Lyric Theatre— Alfred Cellier's illness and death— Letter from 
Arthur Sullivan to Francois CeUier—" Haddon Hall "—Sullivan 
welcomed back— Sydney Grundy's lyrics— The McCrankde— Scotch 
dialect in English Opera— Prejudice of Savoyards — Sydney Grundy 
writes to the papers— Successful run of " Haddon Hall " 

pp. 292-301 




Jane Annie "—J. M. Barrie and A. Conan Doyle— The historian's 
thankless task— Ernest Ford's music — The master and the student 
— Cast of " Jane Annie "—Caledonian golfers—" Bunker " and 
«• bunkum " — Gilbert and Sullivan, re-united, start work on a new 
opera — General rejoicings . . . . . pp. 302-308 


Reunion of the three Savoyard Chiefs — Their " welcome home " at 
the Savoy — Production of Utopia — Another topsy-turvy piece— 
" Old fashioned " Savoy opera proves acceptable — Samples of 
Gilbert's song-words — Another tenor comedian — A Gilbertian 
love-scene ........ pp. 309-3x9 

" utopia " (continued) 

fast of the opera — A new Savoy prima donna — Debut of Miss Nancy 
Mcintosh — More samples of Gilbert's lyrics and dialogue— 
" Utopia " a popular success — Utopian Court Drawing-room — 
Displeasure in high places pp. 320-331 


Fortune on the ebb— •• Mirette "— " The Chief tain "—Revival of 
•• The Mikado "—Apathy of Savoyards—" The Grand-Duke "— 
Madame Ilka von Palmay— The last Gilbert and Sullivan opera — 
" Mikado again revived — 1,000th performance of " The Mikado " 
—Retirement of Jessie Bond— "His Majesty" — Sir Alexander 
Mackenzie's music — First revival of " The Yeomen of the Guard " 
— " The Grand-Duchess " — Offenbach and Sullivan— First revival 
of " The Gondoliers " pp. 33*-34° 





Collaboration of Pinero, Comyns Carr, and Sullivan — Romantic Musical 
Drama — Good music v. bad music — Old and new music— Sir 
Alexander Mackenzie's esteem for Sir Arthur Sullivan — 
Letter from Sir Alexander — His Sullivan lectures — The present 
author airs his personal views — " The Golden Legend " — A 
letter from Sullivan — Pinero's libretto — Comyns Carr's lyrics 
— " Beauty Stone " unsuited to Savoy — Ruth Vincent — Pauline 
Joran — Walter Passmore plays " The Devil " — Emmie Owen, 
The Dare-devil " pp. 341-350 



Revivals: "Gondoliers," "Sorcerer." "Trial by Jury"— "The 
Lucky Star " — Sullivan and Basil Hood collaborate — " The Rose 
of Persia "—Wilfred Bendall— Captain Basil Hood as a librettist 
— "A Happy Ending" — Sullivan and "The Absent-minded 
Beggar " — The narrator's last meeting with Sullivan pp. 351-359 


Second Revival of " Pirates of Penzance " — First Revival of " Pa- 
tience " — Success of the aesthetic opera — Gilbert and D'Oyly Carte 
take their last " Call " together at the Savoy — Illness and death 
of Sullivan — Mr. B. W. Findon's account of the last days of the 
composer — Sir Arthur Sullivan's funeral . . pp. 360-371 


How the narrator heard of Sullivan's death— Irish sympathy and 
regret — Edward German completes Sullivan's unfinished work, 
"The Emerald Isle "—Illness and death of D'Oyly Carte- 
Brief memoir of the Savoy Manager — A characteristic anecdote 

pp. 372-380 




Discipline and esprit de corps — Unabated enthusiasm in the provinces 
— A Classic Acting-Manager — No " fish " stories admitted — Fred 
Billington's views and experiences — Gilbert and Sullivan operas in 
America, Africa, and the Continent — English theatre orchestras 
compared with German — State subsidy — George Grossmith and 
George Thorne — Johannesburg — An absconding dresser — Bil- 
lington and Workman robbed — Francois Cellier's visits to Africa 
— Henry A. Lytton — Gilbertian actor of many parts — Touring — 
Its bright and its dark side — Company snowed up — Leicester 
Tanks' birthday supper-party — The Gilbert and Sullivan operas 
in Oxford and Cambridge pp. 381-302 



Influence of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas upon amateur acting — 
Establishment and growth of operatic and dramatic societies — 
Business control and discipline puts an end to the old style of 
" go-as-you-please " — A few tales about unprofessional players 

PP. 393-399 


" The Emerald Isle " — Hood and German's collaboration — Sullivan's 
swan-song — The fairy cleaner — " The Emerald Isle " in Dublin — 
Mrs. D'Oyly Carte resumes management with revivals — A gala 
last night — A pleasant surprise— Mr. C. H. Workman manager 
of the Savoy — " Fallen Fairies " — A story concerning " Jack 
Point " at rehearsal — Death of Sir William Gilbert pp, 400-409 


SIR WILLIAM GILBERT . . .pp. 410-413 






SALVE ATQUE VALE . . . . PP- 420-422 

APPENDIX pp. 423-435 

INDEX . pp. 437-443 


sir wtlliam gilbert Frontispiece 






























MR. W. H. DENNY . 264 


MISS RUTH VINCENT ........ 268 

















MISS LOUIE POUNDS ........ 354 

MR. H. E. BELLAMY 3^2 


MR. H. A. LYTTON 3 8 4 






MISS CLARA DOW . . . 392 






MR. W. BECXWITH ........ 416 















A Triangle — The virtue of three — The Three Musketeers and the Three 
Savoyards — Brotherhood of the Savoy — Mrs. D'Oyly Carte — 
Dedication of this book. 

It is a long time since I left school, and now all that I 
can dimly recollect of Euclid's Elements is that, after 
much vexation of spirit, they convinced me of the 
sublime virtues of a Triangle. 

I will not go so far as to say that I am indebted 
to the famous Alexandrian Dry-as-dust, who flourished 
some centuries B.C., for my first introduction to musical 
instruments, but many a time when I have been seated 
in the conductor's chair a tinkling sound proceeding 
from the neighbourhood of the tympani has reminded 
me of Problem V., that fatal Pans Asinarum which 
I so painfully struggled to cross in the days of my 

How thankful I was to arrive at that Q.E.D. ! I 
grieved then to think of the precious hours wasted 
over that unmelodious Triangle. How much more 
profitably, I thought, might those hours have been 
devoted to studying the bassoon or oboe. Once, in 
cynical mood, I thought of asking Sir Arthur Sullivan 
whether he had ever studied Euclid- s Elements at the 


Chapel Royal or Leipsic Conservatoire, and if he 
would tell me the concert pitch of an isosceles triangle ; 
but I refrained. I felt that it was not for me to at- 
tempt a jest within the presence-chamber of Gilbert, 
our Prince of Jesters. 

But all such frivolous disquisition aside ; later 
experience of life has fully confirmed those ancient 
theorems which so vexed my boyish brain. I have 
learnt what endless power exists in the conjunction 
of any three units, be it of men or of sticks. 

Perhaps it will be suggested that I should know 
something about sticks, seeing that one sort or another, 
either of ivory, bone, or painted pinewood (sometimes 
with an electric star at its point for conduct during 
dark scenes), has been my constant companion for the 
greater part of my life. But, for the purpose now in 
hand, let us hope to find no further occasion to allude 
to sticks of any kind whatever, either on or off the 

Laying aside the baton for a while, let me now, with 
much temerity, take up the pen and try my 'prentice 
hand in offering to the public a few personal remi- 
niscences of three famous men of our period : Three 

Those of my readers who have made the acquaint- 
ance of another Trio renowned in history — to wit. 
The Three Musketeers — will endorse an argument I 
here venture to advance concerning those indomit- 
able heroes of Dumas' soul-stirring romance. The 
argument is that, however brave, clever, and masterful 
Messieurs Athos, Porthos, and Aramis may have been 


individually, it was only the conjunction of forces 
that enabled them to triumph, as it were, super- 
humanly, over the strange vicissitudes of fortune 
through which they were for ever cutting their way. 

It was because they were three — each one relying 
on, and essential to, the other twain — that these re- 
markable French galants outlived so many anxious 
chapters of their momentous history and eventually 
made the fortune of their publishers. But, whilst 
Dumas' heroes were mere men of fiction, the Three 
Savoyards whose story we have to tell were men who 
but a short while since lived and moved among us, 
won the world's applause and won its laurels. 

And they were Englishmen. 

Nevertheless, between Dumas' three quarrelsome 
musketeers and our brilliant triumvirate of peace a 
parallel may be drawn. Just as in the case of Athos 
and his comrades, so it was with our Savoyards, 
William Schwenk Gilbert, Arthur Seymour Sullivan, 
and Richard D'Oyly Carte ; each was gifted individu- 
ally with genius that must have carried him to the front 
under any circumstances. If, however, their brilliant 
talents had never been combined, the history of the 
Savoy in its associations with London would have 
remained nothing more than a tradition of the ancient 
Chapel Royal which yet stands beside the Thames, 
sheltered and dwarfed now by the colossal hotel, 
erected on the site of the Palace of Peter, Duke of 
Savoy, and founded in the year 1881 mainly on the 
fortunes derived from the Gilbert and Sullivan operas* 


Before bringing to a close this introductory pre- 
amble, I would respectfully beg the indulgence of my 
readers if, in the telling of my story, I am led to adopt 
what may seem to some a too familiar strain in speak- 
iiig of my honoured and deeply lamented chiefs. 
Long and very happy years of uninterrupted inter- 
course with Sir William Gilbert, Sir Arthur Sullivan, 
and Mr. D'Oyly Carte established among us the 
intimacy of close friendship. Although in business 
relationship I was no more nor less to them than their 
humble and obedient servant, it becomes my just 
right and privilege to boast that not only in the ordin- 
ary social intervals of life, but also during the hours 
of duty in the theatre, our attitude, one towards the 
other, was that of brotherhood. 

Further — and I am sure every individual man or 
woman whose good fortune and honour it has been 
to serve under the banner of the Savoy will endorse 
the statement — that every one, from Principal to Call- 
boy, engaged in the theatre was at all times treated by 
the management as a member of one family, and, with 
only such slight intermission as is common to every 
household, a very happy family we were. 

• • . • • 

Just a few more words by way of prologue — words 
indeed which, like the orthodox postscript of a lady's 
letter, may, perhaps, appear to embrace one of the 
most important points of this opening epistle. 

Whilst in the present volume our main theme must 
be the lives and works of the author, composer, and 
manager of the Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, 


it must not here remain unrecorded how in the heart 
of that great enterprise there existed, unseen, a Dea 
ex machina — one feels tempted rather to say, over 
the destinies of the Savoy there presided a kind, 
gentle, ever-watchful spirit in the form of a woman — 
a woman whose wisdom, tact, and energy did more to 
enhance the fortunes of the Savoy than the greater 
world can ever realize. 

That woman was Mrs. D'Oyly Carte. 

In the following pages that lady's cherished name 
may only intermittently appear, but it is confidently 
anticipated that the life-work of Helen Le Noir, wife 
of Richard D'Oyly Carte, may yet form the subject of 
a separate volume. Than that no prouder or more 
powerful testimonial to a true woman's worth could 
be given to the world. 

It is only within the last twelve months that death 
released Mrs. Carte from the managerial post which 
she had filled so faithfully and with such extraordinary 
skill and ability since the loss of her husband in 1901. 

Upon the tombs of my departed friends and col- 
leagues of the Savoy I humbly lay this poor tribute 
of my deep affection and regard. 


Conjunction of Gilbert, Sullivan, and D'Oyly Carte — Gilbert's early 
work — Fairy comedies — "Pygmalion and Galatea'* — "Sweet- 
hearts"— "Bab Ballads "—Sullivan at Chapel Royal— His first 
song — Disciple of Mendelssohn — At the R.A.M. — Mendelssohn 
scholarship— Leipsic — "Tempest" music — D'Oyly Carte's early 
career — His musical agency — Royalty Theatre—" Thespis " — First 
night at Gaiety Theatre compared with Savoy premiere. 

An expert forester will tell the approximate age of an 
oak by its girth, the number of its branches, and other 
indications recognized by his craft ; but concerning 
the acorn from which sprang the tree, whether it 
had been wind-sown or planted in the forest by some 
feudal lord of a long-past century is beyond the art 
and ken of forestry to divine. 

In like manner it may be acknowledged that we, 
whose lives have been closely associated with the 
upshoot of the combined genius of Gilbert, Sullivan, 
and D'Oyly Carte, can measure the circumference and 
number the branches of the mighty tree which be- 
neath their able husbandry took root, grew, and spread 
until all other trees in England's lyric forest were 
dwarfed. But who can tell of a surety how and in what 
circumstances the seed was sown which was in later 
years to bring forth such endless crop of rich fruit ? 

The question has often been put to me — a question 

which I have never been able with sufficient confidence 



or authority to answer: "Can you tell us by what 
accident or stroke of good fortune the three famous 
Savoyards were brought together ? " 

This remains a mere matter of surmise, open, at 
once, to assertion and contradiction. All that we are 
able to chronicle is as follows : 

Some few years before our author joined forces 
with Arthur Sullivan, the name of W. S. Gilbert had 
become familiar to play-goers as the writer of certain 
burlesques and extravaganzas of that ultra-frivolous 
type popular in " the sixties/' Among the best 
remembered of these ephemeral pieces was " Dul- 
camara/' a burlesque produced at St. James's Theatre 
in 1866. In 1868 "Robert the Devil" and "La 
Vivandtere" made successive appearance at the 
Gaiety. These burlesques brought Gilbert into the 
light of John Hollingshead's sacred lamp, which in 
those dull, unelectric days burned brightly within the 
Gaiety Theatre. 

Then came a turn in the tide of Gilbert's ambition. 
In 1870 there commenced a series of new-fashioned 
plays invented by Gilbert and described by him as 
"Fairy Comedies." 

It was in these masterpieces of piquant wit and 
mirthful satire that our author took a distinct de- 
parture from the threadbare methods of Victorian 
playwrights — methods which, it must be admitted, 
Gilbert himself followed in his embryo days. But 
now he took the magic reins of his remarkable ability 
firmly in hand, and drove his Pegasus by rapid strides 
along the road to Fame. 


First of the Fairy Comedies came " The Princess " 
(founded on Tennyson's poem). This was produced 
at the Olympic Theatre in 1870. 

It may here be recalled how "The Princess" was 
afterwards transformed by its author into the libretto 
of the Savoy opera " Princess Ida." November of 
the same year, 1870, witnessed the production of " The 
Palace of Truth" at the Haymarket Theatre. 

In 1871 followed, on the same stage, " Pygmalion 
and Galatea," considered by some critics to be Gilbert's 
masterpiece of versed plays without music. Those 
who witnessed the original production will not have 
forgotten how Mrs. Kendal, then in the prime of life 
and fulness of her artistic power, charmed all hearts 
by her exquisitely winsome impersonation of the 
statue come to life, whilst her husband's Pygmalion was 
proclaimed all worthy of such a stately Galatea. Then, 
too, who shall ever forget J. C. Buckstone as the Art 
Critic ? The veteran comedian's very senility added 
point to his unctuous humour. The infirmities of 
age, including deafness, seemed admirably fitted to 
the part sustained. The Kendals' and Buckstone' s 
characters in those Fairy Comedies at the Haymarket 
are, indeed, amongst the most notable in the long 
gallery of Gilbertian portraits. 

Here one is tempted to linger amidst the delightful 
memories awakened by the passing mention of each 
famous play bequeathed to us by Sir William Gilbert. 
One would wish to be able to describe the sentiments 
that possessed the mind on witnessing the performance 
of " Sweethearts," a life-sketch as perfect as any the 


stage has ever given us. This miniature drama, which 
enjoyed a long run at the Prince of Wales Theatre, 
Tottenham Court Road, enriched the Gilbertian gallery 
with yet another famous pair of character portraits, 
the one that of Marie Wilton (now Lady Bancroft) as 
Jenny Northcott, the other that of Squire Bancroft 
as her devoted sweetheart, Harry Spreadbrow. 

By the general non-theatrical public Gilbert's bril- 
liant talents were first recognized through the publica- 
tion in the pages of Fun, a weekly periodical, published 
by Tom Hood, of " Bab Ballads." These diverting 
conceits literally set the town roaring with laughter and 
established their author as a wit of the first water. 
As is well known, more than one of those quaint, topsy- 
turvy lyrics were afterwards adapted by their author 
as the foundation of his comic-opera libretti. 

Arthur Sullivan, like his gifted confrere, had made a 
name in the world some time before he became asso- 
ciated with Gilbert. During his school-boy days at 
St. James's Chapel Royal — to be precise, it was in his 
thirteenth year, 1855 — his first composition was ac- 
cepted and published by Novello. This was a sacred 
song entitled, " O Israel." It was written during a 
holiday spent in Devonshire at the home of a school- 
chum and fellow-chorister. 

As shown on its title-page, this embryo composition 
was " dedicated to Mrs. Bridgeman of Parkwood, 
Devon," the mother of Sullivan's school-fellow. 

"O Israel," it must be admitted, gave but slight 
indication of the budding composer's latent genius. 
But it undoubtedly betrayed the extent to which 


Sullivan, at the outset of his career, had become imbued 
with the spirit of Mendelssohn. Later and more 
ambitious works proved the young British composer 
to be a devoted worshipper and disciple of the great 
German master of melody. 

It was whilst a " child " at St. James's Chapel Royal 
that Arthur Sullivan joined the Royal Academy of 
Music, and studied harmony and composition under 
John Goss — at that time organist of the Chapel Royal 
— and pianoforte under Sterndale Bennett and Arthur 

In July 1856 the young student gained the Mendels- 
sohn Scholarship, then for the first time awarded. 
One of the stipulations of the scholarship was that it 
should be available only to students of fourteen years 
and over. Sullivan had only then become eligible. It 
was a close race between Arthur Sullivan, the youngest, 
and Joseph Barnby, the oldest of the seventeen com- 
petitors for the coveted honour. It was, in fact, a 
"tie" between the youthful rivals; but, after the 
ordeal of further examination, Sullivan won the 
scholarship and was thus enabled to pursue his studies 
9 at the Academy under exceptional conditions. 

Sullivan's remarkable triumph determined his father, 
who held the post of bandmaster of the Royal Military 
College at Sandhurst and a professorship at Kneller 
Hall, to send Arthur to complete his studies at the 
Leipsic Conservatoire. Accordingly in the autumn 
of 1856 he went to Leipsic. Whilst a student at the 
Conservatoire, Sullivan composed the work which was 
to establish bis footing in the world of music. This 


was his brilliant orchestral accompaniment to Shake- 
speare's "Tempest." 

The work was performed with great success at a 
Gewandhaus Concert in Leipsic, in the presence of the 
most noted Academicals and masters of music in 
Germany, who discovered in the author of this com- 
position that which hitherto they had held to be in- 
conceivable — an English musician. 

With such a " send off " as that accorded him by 
the Teuton savants, Arthur Sullivan's future was 
assured. When performed for the first time in England 
at a Crystal Palace Concert on April 5th, 1862, "The 
Tempest" created a furore amongst the young com- 
poser's compatriots. 

There have been, and probably there still remain, 
connoisseurs who rank Sullivan's "Tempest" music 
as his magnum opus. Be this as it may, it remained 
to the end of his days Sullivan's pet offspring,, possibly 
because it was his first-born. Charles Dickens, after 
hearing the " Tempest " music, shook Sullivan's hand 
with an iron grip and said : " I don' t pretend to know 
much about music, but I do know that I have been 
listening to a very great work." 

Countless reviews, essays, and critical analyses have 
been from time to time devoted to the subject of 
Sullivan as a composer. Admirable sketches in out- 
line of the life of our English maestro have been pub- 
lished at different periods from the able pens of Mr. 
Arthur Lawrence and Mr. B. W. Findon ; but it still 
remains to fill in the outline, a task which might well 
be undertaken by some writer of eminence. 


And now a few words concerning the third of our 
distinguished Savoyards before the formation of the 
famous triumvirate. 

D'Oyly Carte was the son of Richard Carte, partner 
in the well-known firm of Rudall and Carte, musical 
instrument makers of Charing Cross. 

A pupil of University College School, Carte at an 
early age developed a love of music so intense that, at 
the outset of his career, he thought of adopting it as a 
profession. Wiser counsels prevailed. Notwithstand- 
ing that he possessed a pretty gift for the making of 
melodies, and had mastered the theories and in- 
tricacies of the art, he never seriously sat down to 

With that keen judgment and foresight which 
marked his character through life, he gauged the 
measure of his musical ability and found it wanting. 
He lacked the faith sufficient to move the mountains 
of difficulty which he knew to beset the path of aspiring 
British musicians. And so he abandoned all ambition 
to seek distinction in the executive ranks of music, 
and resolved to woo fortune by more commercial 
means, yet maintaining close alliance with the art he 
loved so well. 

Thus, somewhere in the late " sixties/' D'Oyly 
Carte started an operatic and concert agency with a 
small office in Craig's Court, Charing Cross. 

It was in that office that his lucky star guided him 
to appoint as his secretary one who soon became not 
only an invaluable help-mate, but, as he was always 
glad to confess, an inspiring guide, philosopher, and 


friend through the many vicissitudes of fortune and 
momentous issues attending his profession. This was 
Miss Cowper-Black, afterwards better known by the 
assumed name of Lenoir. This talented lady, Helen 
Lenoir, was destined in later days to become D'Oyly 
Carte's devoted wife and ever-faithful partner for life. 

It can hardly be doubted that Carte would have 
made a big score off his own bat on any ground and 
against any opposing team. He had set his mind 
to it, and meant to carry out his bat. But it is certain 
that the brilliant intellect, business acumen, and energy 
of Helen Lenoir greatly aided in the making of the 
remarkable runs that marked his managerial innings. 

Immediate success attended the establishment of 
the musical agency. To D'Oyly Carte was entrusted 
the management of many important operatic, concert, 
and lecture enterprises not only in the Umted Kingdom 
but on the Continent and through the States of America. 
The farewell tour of Mario, the great Italian tenor, 
was entirely directed by Carte, and many another 
brilliant Covent Garden star entrusted his or her 
interests to the well-reputed Agency. Added to these, 
such distinguished names as Matthew Arnold, Archi- 
bald Forbes, Ballantyne (the renowned Sergeant-at- 
law of the Victorian era), and Oscar Wilde may be 
found in the list of clients entered in the books of 
D'Oyly Carte in his secluded bureau at the back of 
Craig's Court. 

And so it was that Richard D'Oyly Carte, going out 
into the field of labour, put his hand to the plough and 
never turned back. 


It was at that period of his life to which we have 
been just alluding that Carte was appointed business 
manager to Kate Santley, at that time sole proprietor 
of the Royalty Theatre in Dean Street, Soho. 

Then followed incidents which, directly or indirectly, 
pointed to the coming together— or, rather, the 
binding together — of Gilbert, Sullivan, and D'Oyly 

In order to make this little moving history as conse- 
cutive as may be possible and desirable, it is necessary 
here to part company for a moment from D'Oyly 
Carte and turn to the subject of our author and com- 
poser's first collaborative work. This was a comic 
opera called " Thespis, or the Gods grown Old," pro- 
duced by John Hollingshead at the Gaiety Theatre, 
on December 26th, 1871. 

It is, perhaps, only by claiming a certain amount of 
author's licence, and indulging in a slight stretch of 
imagination that I am emboldened to include the 
production of " Thespis " in the category of my per- 
sonal reminiscences. Yet do I retain a dim recollec- 
tion of witnessing the piece and being impressed with 
the freshness and originality of Gilbert's libretto, 
especially as regards the lyrics, which were, indeed, a 
treat to read after the vapid, futile jingle of rhymes 
without reason which had hitherto passed muster in 
those degenerate days. To all play-goers it was a 
new "sensation" in musical plays. As for Arthur 
Sullivan's music, need I say how every number 
charmed and charmed again? Little I dreamed in 
that day how it would be my happy lot a few years 


later to become closely associated with the work of 
the author and composer. 

"Thespis," I can remember, was a very funny play, 
with very funny characters, admirably represented by 
such very funny and clever artists as Johnny Toole, 
J. G, Taylor, and Nellie Farren, the idol of her day. If 
I remember rightly, the famous Drury Lane panto- 
mimics, the Paynes, father and sons, were included 
in the cast. 

But, as I have before confessed, my recollections 
of the piece are too dim to justify further personal 
comment on " Thespis " or its exponents. 

I have, however, found much interest in perusing 
some of the critiques of that production and in com- 
paring the conditions then existing with those that, as 
I can bear witness, obtained in the Savoy productions 
by the same author and composer. For instance, let 
me quote one critic. He says : 

" That the grotesque opera was sufficiently re- 
hearsed cannot be allowed, and to this cause must be 
ascribed the frequent waits, the dragging effect, and 
the indisposition to take up points which, recurring 
so frequently, marred the pleasant effect of Mr. Sulli- 
van's music and destroyed the pungency of Mr. Gil- 
bert's humour. . . . We anticipate that prodigious 
curtailment and further rehearsal will enable us to 
tell a different tale." 

From such observations it is very obvious that 
Gilbert and Sullivan had not yet come into their own. 
How different — how astoundingly different is all this 


from our own experience at the Savoy ! As every one can 
testify, not even the profoundest cynic or hypercritic 
had occasion to find fault with a Gilbert and Sullivan 
opera, at least, on the score of unpreparedness. It 
may, indeed, be justly boasted that, under our author 
and composer's careful, astute, and determined super- 
vision and control, rehearsals were brought to such a 
pitch of perfection, the opera so thoroughly cut and 
dried before offering to the public that seldom, if ever, 
was it found necessary to "call " the company for "more 
study " or for any revision of the work. But in 1871 
Gilbert had not yet found his footing. Like every 
other playwright, before or after him, he had to pay 
for it* He was not permitted to usurp or interfere 
with the authority of "the producer/' Hence the 
injustice meted out to the hapless author. 

Judging further from the press notices, " Thespis " 
was by no means an unqualified success. We read 

"The applause was fitful, the laughter scarcely 
spontaneous, and the curtain fell, not without signs 
of disapprobation/' But the same critic adds : " Such 
a fate was certainly undeserved, and the verdict of 
last evening cannot be taken as final." 

Then, again, the writer remarks : 

" A story so pointed and happy, music so satisfactory 
and refined, a spectacle so beautiful and artists so 
clever, deserved a better reward than a curtain falling 
in silence and an absence of those familiar calls and 
greetings which are so pleasant." 


Another critic endeavours to excuse the apathy of 
the audience by the fact that it was Boxing Night. It 
all sounds like damning with faint praise. It seems 
to show that not even the leading critics proved them- 
selves true prophets and foreseers of what would 
result from the collaboration of Gilbert and Sullivan. 
Moreover, it is quite clear that play-goers had not yet 
been educated up to the standard of the new masters. 
Hitherto they had been given simpler food for their 
minds in the shape of rhymed burlesques spiced with 
soul-wracking pirns which made the judicious weep, 
whilst the musical setting of the lyrics (save the mark !) 
was borrowed from the topical music-hall tunes of the 
day, with here and there a bcmne-bouche from grand 
opera, such as the Soldiers' Chorus from " Faust/' 
with tit-bits from " Trovatore," " Traviata," etc. 

I have ventured to wander thus far beyond the 
special province of these personal reminiscences, think- 
ing it may be interesting and instructive to my readers 
to compare the first night of " Thespis" (Gilbert and 
Sullivan's first conjoint work, be it remembered), as 
viewed through the lorgnettes of the reporters of that 
day, with those ever-memorable first nights at the 

It affords a welcome opportunity to recall the 
remarkable features of a Savoy premihe. The 
theatre packed from pit to gallery with an audience 
on the tenter-hooks of pleasurable anticipation. In 
mental vision we see again, flocking into the stalls, all 
the most distinguished personages of the day, men 
and women, famous, not only in theatrical and musical 


circles, but in the wider world of literature, science, 
art, law, and the stock exchange. The balcony and 
upper circles illuminated with stars of only a shade 
less lustre than those sparkling in the nearer firmament 
below. We seem to hear again the volley of cheers 
that greets the appearance of Sir Arthur Sullivan in 
the conductor's seat, the hush that comes with the 
first raising of his baton, the tempest of delight that 
follows upon the final note of the overture. And 
then the house settles down in full assurance to enjoy 
the rich feast of mirth and melody prepared for them. 

Then, as the play proceeds, we listen to the repeated 
chorus of laughter and applause interluded with 
moments of dense silence, strangely broken by a 
frou-frou rustle, a whish, as the vast audience, greedy 
to devour every morsel of our author's humour, turns 
over the pages of the book of words, and then, last 
of all, the curtain-fall, the loud, spontaneous call for 
author and composer, and, with them, the third of 
the trio of proud conquerors. 

Not one syllable of a word of disapprobation mars 
the effect of the reception ; not a unit in that huge 
assembly worries about a train to catch — the real 
world is forgotten in the new and brilliantly fanciful 
regions where they have passed such happy hours. 
The only whisper of regret is that they have not had 
enough of such delicious, appetizing fare. Gladly 
would they remain to hear the opera right through 
again. And could any one who once spent a " first- 
night 91 with Gilbert and Sullivan ever forget the 


As for my humble self, may I be pardoned if I refer 
to my own sensations on those momentous occasions ? 
Let me confess I felt as nervous as though I were 
responsible for everything. It was, I suppose, through 
some natural affinity that the souls of the author and 
composer seemed to possess my unworthy body. My 
nerves strained at the proud burthen. But I was never 
for a moment anxious. For many a day past I had 
been assisting in the rehearsals : I knew the opera 
"by heart/' and was confident that there could be 
only one verdict. 

And yet, familiar as I had already become with the 
construction of the work now launching, when from 
some secluded nook in the auditorium I watched the 
performance from " the front/ ' the opera was as fresh 
and delightful to me as it was to any member of the 
public, listening for the first time to Gilbert's latest 
masterpiece of wit and humour and Sullivan's newly 
cut gems of melody. I laughed — aye, and more — 
sometimes forgetting the unwritten law of managerial 
etiquette, I joined in the applause. Who could 
help it ? 



Trial by Jury " — Fred Sullivan — Nelly Bromley — Penley — Compton 
Benefit — Nellie Farren Benefits-Gilbert's appearance in " Trial 
by Jury." 

Let us now return to Mr. D'Oyly Carte, 

In 1875 Miss Selina Dolaro, a favourite lyric actress 
of that period, opened at the Royalty Theatre a season 
of op6ra-comique with Offenbach's " Perichole," a 
light and frothy work which had proved a great success 
in Paris. Asa" curtain-raiser " a nonsensical hybrid 
entertainment rejoicing in the tongue-torturing title 
of Cryptochon — no — my memory fails to spell out the 
monstrous name, as unpronounceable as any word in 
the Welsh dictionary. This first piece did not prove 
quite palatable to the gods, who liked to be played 
in with more appetizing hots tfceuvre. And so Crypto 
was taken off, and in its place, through the recom- 
mendation of D'Oyly Carte, who was still acting- 
manager of the Royalty, " a new and original dramatic 
cantata called ' Trial by Jury/ by Mr. Arthur Sullivan 
and Mr. W. S. Gilbert," was put on. This, by the way, 
was the only occasion I can recollect on which the 
composer's name appeared in front of the author's on 
the bill of the play. 

It may be interesting to relate how " Trial by Jury " 



came to be written. It occurred thus. One evening 
Mr. Gilbert happened to visit the Royalty Theatre 
where Mr. Carte, in course of conversation with him, 
casually suggested that he should write a bright little 
one-act trifle as a curtain-raiser and that Sullivan 
should be invited to set it to music. Gilbert liked the 
proposal, and before he left the theatre he told Carte 
that an idea had just occurred to him. He proposed 
to write something, the foundation of which should be 
a breach of promise case, introducing judge, jury, 
counsel, plaintiff and defendant, with all the charac- 
teristics of a court of law. The suggestion appealed 
to Carte, and the result was, in less than a month the 
piece was completed and put in rehearsal, and on 
Thursday, March 25th, 1875, without the flourish of 
even a tin trumpet, " Trial by Jury " was for the first 
time presented to the public. 

Expert play-goers who had witnessed "Thespis" 
at the Gaiety some four years previously doubtless 
expected something above the average of front pieces, 
but they wondered in their minds what fun could pos- 
sibly be extracted from such a dry subject as a British 
law-court. Probably they came prepared to scoff. 
Be this as it may, they remained to praise in no qualified 
manner the little surprise packet of sweets prepared 
for them by the newly established firm of bon-bon 
purveyors, Messrs. Sullivan, Gilbert, and D'Oyly 
Carte. Although the press notices that appeared were 
far from what is sometimes vulgarly called " gushing/ ' 
the record remains that " Trial by Jury " was received 
with uproarious shouts of approbation. 


The part of the learned judge, now recognized as 
an historic stage character, was " created" by the 
composer's brother, Fred Sullivan, who at once showed 
himself to be a singing actor of quaint and original 
humour. In fact, it may be asserted that none of the 
past masters of Gilbertian jurisprudence who have 
succeeded Fred Sullivan on the bench has given a 
more finished and humorous portrait of the love- 
smitten judge than that of poor Fred Sullivan. His 
premature death at the very threshold of fame was 
widely lamented, and by none so deeply as by his de- 
voted brother, who, it may be remembered, composed 
his pathetic song, " Thou art passing hence, my 
brother/' beside Fred's death-bed. 

The original plaintiff was charming Nelly Bromley, 
an actress of great personal attraction and winsome 
manner which endeared her to the hearts of all play- 
goers. The defendant was admirably impersonated 
by Walter Fisher, the sweet-noted tenor who flourished 
for too brief a day and vanished into oblivion. 

To the present generation the names I have men- 
tioned above are possibly unknown, but to those who, 
like myself, recollect the production of " Trial by Jury/* 
the leading members of the original cast are numbered 
amongst pleasant reminiscences. 

But we must not omit here to mention how the 
foreman of the jury — not in the original panel, but 
only a short while later — was represented by Arthur 
Penley, who, although the part was a minor one, with 
never a line to speak or sing save in chorus, made a 
name for himself by the — shall we call it ? — originality 


of his facial expression and his quaint antics in the 

It should be recorded that it was D'Oyly Carte who 
discovered Penley. Where and how he picked him up 
matters not ; it must suffice that Penley proved a pearl 
of great price, as all the theatre-going world knows. 

Sullivan and Gilbert's " dramatic cantata/' so un- 
ostentatiously brought to light in the little Soho 
theatre, is now a classic. 

In the Savoy bills many a first piece has come, and, 
after a butterfly's existence of an hour, gone to the 
scrap-heap; but "Trial by Jury" is a perennial, an 
everlasting flower, blooming at all seasons and in all 
places. It remains the stock-piece played in front 
of the short operas of the D'Oyly Carte R6pertoire 
Company on tour. I have failed to count the number 
of times I have personally conducted " Trial by Jury," 
but, if intermittent performances were included, the 
aggregate would represent an exceedingly lengthy, if 
not a record, run. Apart from the Savoy and the 
provincial tour, the popular Dramatic Cantata has 
formed the leading attraction of nearly every big 
" Benefit " performance during the past five-and- 
thirty years, or more. 

The earliest, and one of the most notable instances, 
was that of the Benefit given at Drury Lane Theatre 
on Thursday morning, March 1st, 1877, in aid of a 
Testimonial Fund to the respected veteran comedian, 
Mr. Compton — father of the present well-known actor, 
Edward Compton, and the favourite actress, Mrs. 
R. Carton. 


The Benefit was under the immediate patronage 
and presence of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales (after- 
wards Edward VII.). A programme, remarkable alike 
for its quantity and quality, was contributed to by all 
the leading actors and actresses of the day. Seldom, 
indeed, had such a brilliant galaxy of stars shed their 
light at the same moment upon any stage as those 
which irradiated " Trial by Jury." 

Under the personal direction of the composer the 
popular Dramatic Cantata was deemed the piice de 
resistance of the matinde. Lengthy is the list of dis- 
tinguished artists whose names appeared in the pro- 
gramme, yet it may not be considered waste of space 
if I here record them, one and all, in the order given 
on the original bill of the play, thus : 

The Dramatic Cantata by ARTHUR SULLIVAN and 



The Learned Judge . Mr. George Honey 

Counsel for the Plaintiff . Mr. George Fox 

The Defendant • . . Mr. W. H. Cummings 

Usher Mr. Arthur Cecil 

The Jury, etc. — Messrs. Geo. Barrett, J. D. Beveridge, 
Edgar Bruce, A. Bishop, Furneaux Cook, H. Cox, 

F. G. Darrell Everill, J. Fernandez, W. H. Fisher, 

G. Grossmith, Junr., Hallam, F. W. Irish, H. Jackson, 
Kelleher, G. Loredan, J. Maclean, Marius, A. Matthi- 
son, A. Malt by, E. Murray, Howard Paul, H. Paulton, 
Penky, Harold Power, E. Rosenthal, Royce, J. D. 
Stoyle, J. Sydney, J. G. Taylor, W. Terriss, W. H. 

The Plaintiff . . . Madamb^Paulins Rita 


Bridesmaids. — Misses Carlotta Addison, Kate Bishop, 
Lucy Buckstotne, Violet Cameron, Emily Cross, Ella 
Dietz, Camille Dubois, Kate Field, Emily Fowler, 
Maria Harris, Nelly Harris, Kathleen Irwin, Fanny 
Josephs, Fanny Leslie, Kate Phillips, Emma Rita, 
Rachel Sanger, Florence Terry, Marion Terry, Lottie 

The Orchestra under the direction of Mr. Arthur 

Instrumentalists. — Messrs. Amor, Barrett, Betjemann, 
Boatwright, Brodelet, Busdau, Chipp, Colchester, 
Earnshaw, G. Lawrence, Gibson, Hann, Harper, 
Hutchins, Jakeway, Lazarus, Lebon, A. J. Levey, 
Markland, Matt, Morley, Neuzerling, H. Pheasant, 
Radcliffe, W. H. Reed, Howard Reynolds, Ellis 
Roberts, Scuderi, Shepherd, Snewing, Tull, Tyler, 
Wallace, and White. 

Equally memorable, and, perhaps, yet more interest- 
ing to present day play-goers, was the great " Nellie 
Farren Benefit/' which took place at Drury Lane 
Theatre on Thursday, March 17th, 1898, just twenty- 
one years later than the Compton Benefit. 

Never in the annals of the stage was such a wonderful 
programme provided, such a vast host of talent gathered 
together as that which assembled at "old Drury" 
to do homage and pay tribute of affection and sym- 
pathy to their sister in distress, to Nellie Farren, the 
idol of her day, whose brilliant career had been brought 
to an untimely end by illness and suffering. 

Once again did H.R.H. Edward, Prince qi Wales, 
attest his personal interest in the dramatic profession 
by bestowing his gracious patronage on the benefit 
performance. But this is not the place to enlarge 


upon an event the manifold incidents and glories of 
which will never be forgotten by those who were 
present. It may, however, be of interest to recite 
the names of the distinguished artists who crowded into 
the most popular and unconventional of all courts 
of law, there to witness " Trial by Jury " from the 
Gilbertian point of view. 

Accordingly let us here place on record an authentic 
list of the persons who took part in " Trial by Jury " 
at Nellie Farren's Benefit at Drury Lane, viz. : 

The Learned Judge . Mr. Rutland Barrington 

The Defendant . Mr. Courtice Pounds 

Counsel for the Plaintiff . Mr. Eric Lewis 

Usher .... Mr. Walter Passmore 

The Associate . . . Mr. W. S. Gilbert 

The Associate's Wife . . Lady Bancroft 

The Plaintiff. . Miss Florence Perry 

(Miss Florence St. John was to have played "The 
Plaintiff/' but, as she was taken seriously ill before the 
final rehearsal, Miss Florence Perry kindly took up the 
part at very short notice.) 

Bridesmaids. — Miss Phyllis Br ought on, Miss Louie Pounds, 
Miss Nellie Stewart, Miss Jessie Huddleston, Miss 
Aida Jenoure, Miss Ellis Jeffreys, Miss Sybil Carlisle, 
Miss Grace Palotte, Miss Violet Robinson, Miss Maud 
Hobson, Miss Ina Repton, Miss Kate Cutler, Miss 
Emmie Owen, Miss Maggie May, Miss Ruth Vincent, 
Beatrice Ferrers. 

Jurymen. — Mr. Harry Lytton (Foreman), Mr. Willie 
Edouin, Mr. Norman Salmond, Mr. John Coates, Mr. 
E. J. Lonnen, Mr. Richard Green, Mr. W. Louis Brad- 
field, Mr. Jones Hewson, Mr. W. H. Denny, Mr. W. 
H. Seymour, Mr. Mark Kinghorne, Mr. Colin Coop, 


Mr. J. J. Dallas, Mr. William Elton, Mr. J. Furneaux 
Cook, Mr. Scott Russell, Mr. Herbert Standing, Mr. 
Arthur Roberts. 

Counsel. — Mr. J. Comyns Carr, Mr. Haddon Chambers, 
Mr. Sydney Grundy, Mr. Lionel Monckton, Mr. 
Edward Rose. 

Scats on the Bench occupied by Miss Ellen Terry, Miss 
Mary Moore, Miss Lydia Thompson, Mr. Charles 

Seats by Counsel. — Miss Kate Santley, Miss Constance 
Loseby, Miss Marion Hood, Miss Rose Leclercq, Miss 
Kate Rorke, Mrs. Dion Boucicault, Miss Carlotta 
Addison, Miss Fanny Brough, Mdlle Cornelie D'Anka. 

Crowd in Court. — Miss Compton, Miss Florence Young, 
Miss Helena D'Acre, Miss Rosina Brandram, Mrs. H. 
Leigh, Mrs. F. H. Macklin, Miss Kate Bishop, Miss 
Maria Davis, Miss Helen Ferrers, Miss Florence 
Gerrard, Miss Sarah Brooke, Miss Leonora Braham, 
Miss Irene Vanbrugh, Miss Evelyn Fitzgerald, Miss 
Beatrice Terry, Miss Nesbitt, Miss Lily Cellier, Miss 
Louie Henri, Miss Jessie Rose, Miss Daisy Gilpin, 
Miss Ethel Wilson, Miss Ada Newall, Miss Pattie 
Reimers, Miss Dorothy Dene, Miss Hetty Dene, Miss 
Mary C. Mackenzie, Miss Gertrude de Lacy, Miss 
Valerie de Lacy, Miss Margery North cote, Miss Milli- 
cent Baker, Miss Laurie Ellston, Miss Marguerite 
Moyse, Miss Ethel Jackson, Miss Lily Twyman, Miss 
Annie Russell, Mr. Chas. J. Fulton, Mr. Gillie Far- 
quhar, Mr. Nut combe Gould, Mr. James Erskine, 
Mr. W. T. Lovell, Mr. Tim Riley, Mr. J. D. Beveridge, 
Mr. Chas. Sugden, Mr. Dion Boucicault, Mr. Cory 
James, Mr. Chas. Childerstone, Mr. Joseph Ruff, Mr. 
Charles Earldon, Mr. Cecil Castle, Mr. Avon Hastings, 
Mr. Iago Lewys, Mr. Dudley Jepps, Mr. Edwin 
Bryan, Mr. J. Ivimey, Mr. Leonard RusselL 

Conductor . Mil Francois Cellier 


Often I have had the honour to conduct an orchestra 
in the presence of a distinguished assembly upon 
whom I have been compelled, through the exigencies 
of my official post, to turn my back, but I may safely 
assert that never before nor since have I raised the 
b&ton before such a brilliant array of talent and beauty 
as that which appeared at Nellie Farren's Benefit. 

The performance of " Trial by Jury " on this occa- 
sion was under the personal direction of the author, 
who, it will be noted, appeared as " The Associate." 

Gilbert, in wig and gown, seemed literally to revel 
in playing at law. He was delighted at the oppor- 
tunity afforded him of pointing the keen darts of his 
satire, in full view of an audience, at the profession 
which he had adorned for a brief while before abandon- 
ing it for the more congenial calling of the stage. 

And so, as we have seen, " Trial by Jury/ 1 described 
by one critic of the day as " an unpretentious trifle," 
and as such treated by the press scribes in general, 
has proved, comparatively in as great a measure as 
the more ambitious works of Gilbert and Sullivan, 
that our gifted author and composer were inspired 
to write " not for an age, but for all time." 


"Trial by Jury" (continued) — Comedy Opera Company — Opera 
Comique Theatre— "The Sorcerer "—Selecting first G. and S. 
Company — The old school and the new. 

The triumph of " the unpretentious trifle " was followed 
by results exceeding anything that its author and 
composer could have conceived. 

The public rose to the new and very taking bait pro- 
vided, and " packed houses " was the order of things 
at the Royalty Theatre from March to December 1875. 

A musical play, absolutely pure and unadulterated 
English, not only by parentage, but as regards char- 
acterization and mise-en-sctne; was something to 
rejoice at. Everybody was delighted. The most 
confirmed ennuye could not fail to be exhilarated by 
Gilbert' s pungent satire. His witticisms became house- 
hold words. Sullivan's tuneful numbers were carried 
away to be murdered and mutilated in every drawing- 
room and every kitchen throughout the length and 
breadth of town from Bow to Belgravia. The more 
thoughtful began eagerly asking, "Why cannot we 
now have English Comic Opera ? With such able and 
witty librettists as F, C. Burnand, James Albery, and 
W. S. Gilbert ; with such masters of melody as Arthur 
Sullivan, Frederic Clay, and Alfred Cellier, to name 



only the best known, surely the time is come to take 
up arms against the invasion of French authors and 
composers, who have held us in subjection for too long 
a time." 

Thus spoke the cognoscenti of the musical and 
dramatic world. But the suggestion was by no means 
a new and original one to Mr. D'Oyly Carte. The 
very same idea had been filtering through his mind 
ever since the production of "Thespis." Long had 
he been hatching plots for the establishment of English 
Opera, and the great success of " Trial by Jury" 
strengthened his resolution. 

Eventually, in 1876,. on Carte's sole initiative, the 
Comedy Opera Company was formed, and to the 
promoter was entrusted the supreme management 
and control. 

There can be no question that the new manager 
was counting upon Gilbert and Sullivan as prime 
factors in the enterprise. At the same time, it was 
not his intention to limit the repertoire of the Comedy 
Opera Company to the works of the author and com- 
poser of " Trial by Jury." Carte's scheme embraced, 
notably, those leading musical and dramatic lights 
whose names appear above. 

Accordingly, F. C. Burnand and my brother Alfred 
were invited to prepare an opera with a view to pro- 
duction when occasion might arise. James Albery 
and Frederic Clay, whose operetta " Oriana " had been 
recently produced with success at the Globe Theatre, 
were also asked to submit an opera. However, as 
results proved, through one cause or another which it 


is unnecessary here to explain, neither of these com- 
missions was carried into effect. 

For some time Carte could find no suitable theatre 
available, but at length he secured a lease of the 
Opera Comique. It was not the house he would have 
chosen for his venture, but it was Hobson's choice, 
and he made the best of it. 

Old play-goers will not have forgotten the subter- 
ranean theatre that lay hidden away beneath Holywell 
and Wych Streets, those narrow, emaciated, grubby 
thoroughfares devoted then, as they had been for a 
century past, to bookworms. 

The Auditorium of the Opera Comique was ap- 
proached by a long tunnel opening from the Strand, 
at a point which it is not easy for the inexpert passer- 
by to-day to identify in that now truly rural-looking 
waste in Aldwych, the " bank whereon the wild thyme 
grows" as yet undisturbed by the ruthless builder of 
shops, hotels, and theatres. 

Access to the stage was through a narrow, dingy 
doorway in Wych Street and thence direct by the 
straightest and steepest flight of stone stairs it was 
ever my task to climb. But I was a younger man in 
those days than I am now, and I should probably have 
forgotten so unimportant an item as a staircase but 
for an incident that nearly became tragedy, but 
fortunately ended in nothing more aggravating to the 
persons concerned than an action at law. To this 
incident we may have occasion to refer more parti- 
cularly in a later chapter. 

But whilst we have been here taxing the patience of 



our readers by showing them over the birthplace of 
the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, our author and com- 
poser have completed and brought to Manager Carte 
an opera in two acts, entitled, " The Sorcerer." 

On the recommendation of Mr. Carte, " The Sor- 
cerer" was, as a matter of course, promptly accepted 
by the Board of Directors mm. con. 

Not having been appointed to the executive staff 
until some time subsequently, I have no personal re- 
collections of occurrences during the initial days of 
the Comedy Opera Company beyond fragments col- 
lected from time to time in the course of conversation 
with the renowned Three who had now banded them- 
selves together to take the town by storm. 

I have often listened with great interest whilst they 
have fought their early battles over again, and it may 
not be without interest to the younger generations 
of Savoy camp-followers to contemplate and compare 
the very different and more difficult conditions attend- 
ing the preparation for production of " The Sorcerer " 
compared with those which obtained in connection with 
Gilbert and Sullivan's later creations. 

In the first place, here was a lyric work of a type 
totally distinct from any the stage had hitherto pro- 
duced. It was obvious that the lesson which both 
Gilbert and Sullivan had come to teach would not 
precisely suit the existing school of actors and singers. 
There would be too much to unlearn, too much new- 
fangled form of study to be graciously accepted by 
the proud and jealous supporters and apostles of 
ancient histrionic traditions. The Gilbertian methods 


appeared at once to be only adaptable to novices 
in the school of acting. Then also, from the musical 
point of view apart from all technical consideration 
of Sullivan's music; the composer's latest score was 
totally unlike that common to the stage at that or 
any previous period of musical history. It certainly 
was not suited to the attributes of Grand Opera 
singers of either the intensely melodramatic or the 
colatura class. To do adequate justice to the aim 
and intention of both composer and author, beyond 
all else distinct emphasis and phrasing, clear enuncia- 
tion of every word, were absolutely essential, seeing that 
beneath every bar of music there lay concealed humour 
of such rich, rare, and refined quality as would prove 
beyond the understanding and ability of the past- 
masters of musical buffoonery. That they were clever 
and accomplished actors and singers of their kind none 
will deny, but they had become too saturated with 
the obsolescent spirit of Victorian burlesque and extra- 
vaganza ever to become capable exponents of a Gilbert 
and Sullivan opera. 

It is very easy to engage and pay a handsome salary 
to a comedian to paint his nose red in order to make 
people laugh, and gain a reputation for himself, but to 
forbid the cleverest clown to decorate his nasal organ 
— that is where the fun goes out and poor clown finds 
his occupation gone. 

No man, be he actor, singer, penny whistler, ice- 
cream merchant, or what not, is equal to two reputa- 

Neither Gilbert, Sullivan, nor D'Oyly Carte wanted 


their comedians to paint their noses red. The neve 
triumvirate had brought about a revolution. They 
had devised other methods of convulsing the world with 
laughter. In short, here was a new school founded 
and to become established, and so, with these con- 
ditions staring them in the face, our manager with his 
author and composer set to work to cast " The Sorcerer/ ' 
They knew exactly the stuff they wanted to make 
their new patent bricks of, and they commenced pro- 
specting for the right quality of clay wherein to mould 
the quaint and original creations of " The Sorcerer/ 1 

The casting of parts in later operas was compara- 
tively an easy task. Gilbert and Sullivan, having 
got together and trained to their standard the nucleus 
of a stage company, were afterwards able to build 
a part to the model they possessed, instead of, as in 
the first instance, having to search high and low for 
the right artist to embody the part designed. 


Selection of principal artists — Gilbert's musical knowledge— Bin. 
Howard Paul — George Grossmith — Rutland Barrington — Original 
cast of •• Sorcerer " — Press opinions — " Dora's Dream " — " The 
Spectre Knight." 

To those unversed in the inner workings of the operatic 
stage it may sometimes be a subject of wonder how 
it is, when the selection of principal artists takes place, 
the author and composer do not find their personal 
views running counter. Such an undesirable situation 
may occasionally arise, but it is generally so when the 
collaborators have not learnt to know each other 
well enough to make it easy to dovetail their respective 
interests and requirements, each giving and taking 
for the sake of the ensemble. 

But as regards Gilbert and Sullivan it may honestly 
be affirmed that, from first to last, throughout their 
long association, they seldom found occasion for any 
serious controversy concerning the suitability of an 
artist for the part to be assigned. 

During the process of building, like wise architects, 
our author and composer held continued conference 
over every detail of the structure in hand. From 
basement to roof every Sullivanesque bar and every 
Gilbertian bolt was jointly tested and mutually ap- 
proved, and then, they being of one and the same 



refined artistic taste, the style of decorations was 
found easy to decide upon. Sullivan, perhaps, held 
some advantage as a judge of the requisite maUriel. 
He knew to what extent he could rely upon fiadr 
ing actors and actresses who could at once be 
depended upon to speak the lines to the author's 
satisfaction, and, at the same time, be able to sing 
effectively and at least without actually murdering the 
music — in short, be capable of satisfying librettist 
and composer alike. Gilbert, on the other hand, con- 
fessed to some lurking dread of singers as actors— 
especially so of tenors ; but then it was ever his boast 
that he did not know a note of music, that he had not 
the ear to distinguish " God save the King " from 
" Rule Britannia." On this point, however, his 
Savoy associates were inclined to accept this as half- 
truth, seasoned with a considerable amount of Gilber- 
tian sarcasm. Anyway, our unmusical genius, the 
writer of lyrics that compelled melody, was often heard 
during rehearsals humming to himself some of the 
latest musical numbers. True, he generally jumbled 
ballads, bravuras, and patter songs into a strange pot- 
pourri wonderful to listen to, and in none of his render- 
ings was he precise to Sullivan's original key ; never- 
theless, it was not always impossible to identify the 
tune or tunes intended, and certainly his efforts were 
good enough to raise speculation as to the limit of 
Gilbert's aural capacity. 

This brief digression may, perhaps, help to throw 
some light on the question how our author and com- 
poser were guided in the selection of their company. 


Piloted, then, by iyOyly Carte, Qilbert and Sullivan 
exploited other lyric seas beyond that of the " legiti- 
mate 11 stage. At that time there existed none of 
those excellent, well organized, and drilled Amateur 
Operatic Societies that now prevail and which have 
become useful training-schools for the profession. But 
there was the Royal Academy of Music, from which 
"voices' 1 were obtainable, and there was strolling 
about the kingdom a small army of quasi-theatrical 
entertainers who had won reputations in town-halls, 
mechanics 1 institutes, and other such places as might 
aptly and without disrespect be styled chapels-of-ease 
to the theatres. It was amongst the ranks of that 
army that The Three made search and eventually 
enlisted George Grossmith, Mrs. Howard Paul, and 
Rutland Barrington to fill principal parts in "The 
Sorcerer. 11 

For leading baritone they appointed Mr. Richard 
Temple, who had proved his quality as an actor and 
singer in English opera of the Balfe school. For the 
tenor role they engaged Mr. Bentham, until then 
known only as a concert singer. The chorus was 
selected mainly from students of the Royal Academy 
and from other private sources. It was with more 
than ordinary interest and curiosity that play-goers 
anticipated the production of "The Sorcerer, 11 
and accordingly, on the opening night, Saturday, 
November 17th, 1877, all musical London flocked to 
the Opera Comique. Every one was on the qui vive 
of expectation, but none present on the occasion enter- 
tained the idea that they were witnessing the laying 


of the foundation-stone of an art institution that would 
in time become the delight of countless hearers and 
The following is the original cast of — 


Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre . . Mr. Temple 

(An Elderly Baronet) 
Alexis Mr. Bentham 

(Of the Grenadier Guards — his Son) 
Dr. Daly Mr. Barrington 

(Vicar of Ploverleigh) 

Notary Mr. Clifton 

John Wellington Wells . . Mr. Grossmith 

(Of J. W. Wells & Co., Family Sorcerers) 
Lady Sangazure . Mrs. Howard Paul 

(A Lady Of Ancient Lineage) 
Aline Miss Alice May 

(Her Daughter — betrothed to Alexis) 
Mrs. Partlet Miss Everard 

(A Pew-opener) 
Constance .... Miss Giulia Warwick 

(Her Daughter) 

Chorus of Villagers 

Stage Manager . . Mr. Charles Harris 

Musical Director .... Mr. G. B. Allen 

The Scenery by Mr. Beverley. 
The Dresses by Mdme Auguste. 
The Dances by Mr. D'Auban. 

The libretto of " The Sorcerer " was founded on a 
story which Gilbert had, a year previously, contributed 
to the Christmas number of The Graphic. The story 
set forth how a benevolently disposed and domestic- 





ally happy clergyman, convinced that in marriage lies 
the secret of human bliss, administered a love-potion 
to his entire parish with the utmost indiscriminateness. 
The results did not turn out as anticipated. Every- 
body became enamoured of the wrong person, and the 
moral was that the principle of " natural selection/' 
though it may not work with desirable activity, is the 
safest in the end. 

The leading idea of the plot — the love-philtre busi- 
ness — was by no means novel. It had done service 
again and again in song, story, and play. It was, 
therefore, a severe tax on the ingenuity of our author to 
put new life into such old bones. But Gilbert proved 
equal to the task. His complete mastery of the art 
of giving to the most incongruous ideas the semblance 
of reason, his dialogue, rich in droll conceits and keen 
but playful satire upon men and things, his admirably 
turned lyrics brimming over with humour and often 
reaching to heights of pure poetry— in short, Gilbert' s 
quaint original cut of new cloth succeeded in fitting 
an old garment perfectly to the taste of his clients. 

Even if it were within the province of this book, it 
would be somewhat late in the day to enter into any 
critical analysis of " The Sorcerer," either as regards the 
libretto or the music. Nevertheless, readers may like 
to learn something of what the press and public of 
the period thought of Gilbert and Sullivan's earlier 
works, and what promise they gave of things to 

A glance through the press notices shows that the 
only fault the critics could find with the book of " The 


Sorcerer" was that indicated above — the stateness of 
the joke attached to the love elixir, and the ultra- 
supernatural incidents which, perhaps, tended to 
make the play difficult of digestion. 
Regarding the music let me quote one expert writer : 

" Coming to Mr. Sullivan's music, we do not approach, 
as in opera generally, the be-all and end-all of the 
work. The ordinary libretto is scarcely more than 
a peg on which the composer hangs this theme, but 
here the importance of the playwright is at least as 
great as that of the musician, which in strictness should 
ever be the case. None the less do Mr. Sullivan's songs 
and concerted pieces command attention as the pro- 
duct of a cultivated, musical mind, and it is gratifying 
to state that ' The Sorcerer ' contains some of his 
best music. For the ballads we do not greatly care. 
They by no means come up to the composer's usual 
mark . . . but the musical charm of the opera lies in 
its concerted pieces — wherever, in point of fact, the 
composer had a dramatic incident or situation to 

Touching the acting and singing, the critics, without 
discovering " talent of the highest order anywhere on 
the stage," were yet generous enough in their praise 
to encourage the leading recruits of the new regime, 
and perfectly to justify the management in having 
placed their faith in new blood to give life to Gilbert 
and Sullivan's revolutionary creations. 

The ultimate success of "The Sorcerer" may 
be judged by the fact that its run extended from 
November 17th, 1877, to May 22nd, 1878, comprising 


175 performances— no slight achievement in those 

" The Sorcerer," on its first production, was pre- 
ceded by a one-act operetta, " Dora's Dream," writ- 
ten by Arthur Cecil and composed by Alfred Cellier. 
The characters were played by Miss Giulia Warwick 
and Mr. Richard Temple. This little piece was, on 
February 9th, 1878, superseded by "The Spectre 
Knight," a one-act opera, the libretto by James Albery 
and the music again by my brother Alfred, who had 
then succeeded Mr. G. B. Allen as Musical Director of 
the Opera Comique. 

I trust I may be forgiven if, in parenthesis, I here 
note with pride that the overture to " The Spectre 
Knight " remains a living work, and, if I may be 
allowed to add, has proved worthy of the composer of 
the cantata "Gray's Elegy," and the operas "Doro- 
thy," " Doris," " The Mountebanks," etc. 


Building " H.M.S. Pinafore "—Sullivan's versatility— Production of 
"H.M.S. Pinafore" — Cast— Gilbert as stage-manager— Clever 
draughtsman — Rehearsals — "Gagging" prohibited — Sullivan at 

To find a foundation for the libretto of the next opera 
to follow "The Sorcerer," Gilbert determined on 
plagiarizing from his own past work. That is to 
say, he turned to his " Bab Ballads/' 

Readers of those irresponsible yet immortal rhymes 
will not have forgotten — 

" . . . the worthy Captain Reece 
Commanding of the Mantelpiece " — 

who was so devoted to his crew that there was no con- 
ceivable luxury he did not provide for their comfort ; 
for example : 

" A feather bed had every man, 
Warm slippers and hot-water can, 
Brown Windsor from the Captain's store, 
A valet, too, to every four." 

It will be remembered how the Captain's coxswain, 
William Lee, "the nervous, shy, low-spoken man," 
made so bold as to suggest to his commanding officer that 
" it would be most friendly-like " if his (Captain Reece' s) 
daughter, " ten female cousins and a niece, six sisters, 


and an aunt or two/' might be united to the "un- 
married members of the crew/ ' Further, how the kind- 
hearted Captain, in order to oblige, consented to marry 
his faithful coxswain's widowed mother, who took in 
his washing. 

Here, then, was a comic plot already cut and dried, 
with ready-made dramatis personae. All that re- 
mained to adapt the story to the stage was for our 
author to embody his eccentric characters, add one 
or two to their number, train them all to sing and 
dance, and make them the mouthpieces of his playful, 
up-to-date satire on sundry authorities and institu- 
tions of the day. 

Gilbert began, then, by renaming the " Mantel- 
piece" "H.M.S. Pinafore." Captain Reece became 
Captain Corcoran; William Lee, coxswain, was pro- 
moted to the rank of boatswain's mate and given the 
name of Bill Bobstay; the widowed laundress was 
transformed into that " plump and pleasing person " to 
be known henceforth and famed throughout Christen- 
dom as " Little Buttercup/' the Portsmouth bumboat 
woman, " the rosiest, the roundest, and the reddest 
beauty in all S pithead" But the ship's complement 
was not yet complete. There must be a sailor youth 
upon whom the conventional love interest should 
devolve ; and so Ralph Rackstraw, a leading A.B., was 
duly appointed to that billet — whilst, as a foil to the 
handsome young hero, another able-bodied seaman, 
a veritable anomaly, was brought to light in the ugly, 
distorted form of Dick Deadeye, the one bete noire of 
the Pinafore's jovial crew. 


But the most important addition that Gilbert made 
to his dramatis personae was the Right Hon. Sir Joseph 
Porter, K.C.B., First Lord of the Admiralty. To this 
distinguished personage were bequeathed " the sisters 
and cousins and aunts who, in the "Bab Ballad/' 
had belonged to Captain Reece. 

Thus, by a wave of his magic wand, Gilbert trans- 
formed the stanzas of a humorous ballad into a still 
more excruciatingly funny opera-libretto. To set to 
music such a strange conglomeration of unreasonable 
ideas and unrecognizable individuals as those com- 
prised in Gilbert's book was severely to test the in- 
genuity of any musician. Was it possible that the 
composer of such profoundly ambitious works as 
" The Tempest/' " The Light of the World," and " The 
Prodigal Son" could descend from such lofty heights 
to the depths of flaring frivolity ? 

The weird, supernatural atmosphere of "The 
Sorcerer " was not less calculated to afford inspiration 
to Sullivan than "Tristan and Iseult" to inspire 
Wagner, or "Elixir d'Amore" Donizetti. 

There are no bounds to supernatural elements. The 
poet or the musician can give loose rein to his imagina- 
tion as he rides through Ideal-land and none may call 
him " Halt ! " But the deck of H.M.S. Pinafore, if 
not governed strictly by the customary discipline oi 
the British man-of-war and manned, as it came to 
be, by a caricature crew, nevertheless retained some 
semblance of real life, and so required musical setting 
in harmony with its environment. But Sullivan had 
already, notably in " Trial by Jury," proved himself 


a born humorist, fully capable of entering into the 
spirit and essence of his colleague's fun. 

Such was his versatility that he was able to express 
in tone-words of equal eloquence the Soliloquy of 
Shakespeare's Prospero, the grunt of Caliban, the song 
of Captain Corcoran, or the patter of Sir Joseph Porter. 

Moreover, Gilbert's "Pinafore" was essentially 
English, and Arthur Sullivan's natural tone was English 
to his last demisemiquaver. 

Musical London had learnt all this. The British 
public now knew what they might reasonably expect 
from the collaboration of Gilbert and Sullivan. Thus 
it came to pass that on Saturday, May 25th, 1878, 
three days after the withdrawal of " The Sorcerer," the 
doors of the Opera Comique were besieged for many 
hours by eager play-goers, pushing and praying for 
seats or at least for standing-room. 

One press critic, describing the opening night of 
" H.M.S. Pinafore," wrote thus : 

" Seldom, indeed, have we been in the company of 
a more joyous audience, more confidently anticipating 
an evenings amusement than that which filled the 
Opera Comique in every corner. The expectation was 
fulfilled completely. Those who believed in the power 
of Mr. Gilbert to tickle the fancy with quaint sugges- 
tions and unexpected forms of humour were more 
than satisfied, and those who appreciated Mr. Arthur 
Sullivan's inexhaustible gift of melody were equally 

Satified. The result, therefore, was ' a hit, a palpable 
t ' — a success in fact, there could be no mistaking, and 
which, great as it was on Saturday, will be even more 
decided when the work has been played a few nights." 



The reception accorded Arthur Sullivan on his 
appearing in the conductor's chair proved, more em- 
phatically than ever before, in what high esteem the 
English musician was held by his compatriots. 

With a view to the record of interesting and authentic 
data, it is proposed in this volume to republish the 
cast of each of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas in 
the chronological order of their production. 

The following is the list of the original dramatis 
personae of — 



The Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B. 

(First Lord of the A imirdUy) Mr. George Grossmith 
Captain Corcoran . . Mr. Rutland Harrington 

(Commanding H.M.S. " Pinafore ") 

Ralph Rackstraw 

(Able Seaman) 
Dick Deadeye 

(Able Seaman) 
Bill Bobstay 

(Boatswain's Mate) 
Bob Becket . 

(Carpenter's Mate) 

(The Captain's Daughter) 
Hebe .... 

(Sir Joseph's First Cousin) 
little Buttercup . 

(A Portsmouth Bumboat Woman) 

Mr. George Power 

Mr. Richard Temple 

Mr. F. Clifton 

. Mr. Dymott 

Miss Emma Howson 

. Miss Jessie Bond 

Miss Everard 

In the above company notable new-comers were 
Mr. (now Sir George) Power, Miss Emma Howson, an 

r /■ 



American soprano whose d6but was pronounced " a 
complete success/' and Miss Jessie Bond, the delightful 
soubrette who afterwards became one of the most 
popular of Savoyards. 

George Grossmith, Rutland Barrington, Richard 
Temple, and Miss Everard reappeared to add fresh 
laurels to those earned in " The Sorcerer " 

Author and composer alike, having taken the measure 
of their respective capabilities and personal character- 
istics, had succeeded in fitting each performer to a part 
which was found to fit like a glove. 

The perfect state of preparedness in which " H.M.S. 
Pinafore " was launched showed Gilbert to be the 
Master-absolute of stagecraft. From rise to fall of 
curtain, there was evidence that every situation and 
grouping, every entrance and exit, had been studied, 
directed, and drilled to the minutest point. 

Gilbert was a clever draughtsman, as witness his 
delightful thumb-nail illustrations of " Bab Ballads " 
and " The Songs of a Savoyard " ; and so he always 
designed his own stage-scenes. For the purpose of 
obtaining a perfectly correct model of a British man- 
of-war, he, accompanied by Arthur Sullivan, paid a 
visit to Portsmouth and went on board Nelson's 
famous old flag-ship, the Victory. There, by permis- 
sion of the naval authorities, he made sketches of every 
detail of .the quarter-deck to the minutest ring, bolt, 
thole-pin, or halyard. From these sketches he was 
able to prepare a complete model of the Pinafore's 
deck. With the aid of this model, with varied, coloured 
blocks to represent principals and chorus, the author, 



like an experienced general, worked out his plan of 
campaign in the retirement of his studio, and so came 
to the theatre ready prepared to marshal his company. 

Gilbert was by no means a severe martinet, but he 
was at all times an extremely strict man of business 
in all stage matters. His word was law. He never 
for a moment adopted the methods and language of 
a bullying taskmaster. Whenever any member of 
the company, principal or chorister; either through 
carelessness, inattention, or density of intellect, failed 
to satisfy him, he vented his displeasure with the keen 
shaft of satire which, whilst wounding where it fell, 
invariably had the effect of driving home and impress- 
ing the intended lesson. It was, in fact, a gilded pill 
that our physician administered to his patients, for 
his bitterest sarcasm was always wrapped in such rich 
humour as to take the nasty taste away. 

As an instance of Gilbert's humorous instinct, let 
me recall how, during a rehearsal of " Pinafore," when 
the piece was revived at the Savoy, our author was 
instructing the crew and the visiting sisters, cousins, and 
aunts as to their grouping in twos. When they had 
paired off one sailor was found with two girls. Gilbert, 
impatient at what he thought was some irregularity, 
shouted out, "No — no — go back — I said Twos* 9 
They went back with the same result, simply because 
one male chorister was absent from rehearsal. When, 
accordingly, Gilbert discovered he had been too hasty, 
he promptly turned the situation into a joke. Address- 
ing the sailor with the two girls he said, " Ah, now I 
see ; it is evident you have just come off a long voyage " ; 


then, turning to our stage-manager, remarked that if 
the ship's crew remained incomplete the only thing to 
do was to employ a press-gang. 

Most remarkable was Gilbert's faculty for inventing 
comic business. He would leave nothing to the 
initiative care of the comedians. Not only was a 
" gag " disallowed, being looked upon as profanation, 
but the slightest sign of clowning was promptly nipped 
in the bud, and the too daring actor was generally 
made to look foolish under the lash of the author's 

At the same time, Gilbert was never above listening 
to, and sometimes adopting, a suggestion for some 
useful " bit of business " which any principal ventured 
to whisper to him. 

This " strict service " method was observed, not only 
at rehearsal, but was religiously adhered to throughout 
the run of the piece. The stage-manager was always 
held responsible, and was required to report to head- 
quarters any member of the company violating the 
Gilbertian " articles of war." Most religiously did 
Mr. Richard Barker carry out his chief's orders. In 
evidence of the stage-manager's eagle-eyed watchful- 
ness, Miss Julia Gwynne, who had not yet emerged from 
the chorus, tells a true story. During a performance 
of the "Pinafore " Barker called her up to him and said : 
" Gwynne, I saw you laughing ! — what have you got 
to say ? " " Really — Mr. Barker," replied Miss Gwynne, 
" I assure you — you must have been mistaken — I was 
not laughing — it was only my natural amiable 
expression that you saw." " Ye-es, I know that 


amiable expression I " Then, turning to the call-boy, 
Barker pronounced sentence thus : " Gwynne fined 
half-crown, for laughing 1" 

Such was the undeviating discipline that marked 
D'Oyly Carte's management throughout, and there 
can be no question that without it the sterling value 
of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas could never have 
been so thoroughly tested and proved as it was. 

Whilst on the subject of rehearsals, it must not be 
supposed that an opera was presented to the. public 
precisely in the state in which it was brought to the 
theatre from the desks of the author and the composer. 
Far from it. The main hull of the ship, so to speak, 
was made ready for the launch, but there yet remained 
the fitting and rigging to render it sea-worthy. Both 
libretto and music were subjected to scissors and spoke- 
shave until every rough edge had been removed. 

When the opera was placed in rehearsal, after 
Gilbert had read his book to the assembled company, 
the teaching of the choral music was first taken in hand. 
This occupied many days, after which came the prin- 
cipal singers in concert with the chorus. The trial of 
the solo numbers followed later in order. Then, if 
any song appeared to the composer to miss fire, Sullivan 
would never hesitate to rewrite it, and in some in- 
stances an entirely new lyric was supplied by Gilbert. 

The author invariably attended the music rehearsals, 
in order to make mental notes of the style and rhythm 
of the songs and concerted numbers to assist him in 
the invention of the " stage-business " to accompany 
each number. 


Like his colleague, Arthur Sullivan was most strict 
and exacting as regards the rendering of his music* 
There must be nothing slipshod about it. If an 
individual departed from the vocal score to the point 
of a demisemiquaver or chose his own tempo, the 
chorus was at once pulled up and the defaulter brought 
to book. It was sometimes ludicrous to see some 
nervous chorister, whose ear was not sensitive and 
whose reading ability was limited, called upon to 
repeat again and again, as a solo, the note or two 
upon which he had broken down. It was a trying 
ordeal, but the desired end was always attained. 
Thereupon the blushing chorister thanked the smiling 
composer for having taken such pains to perfect his 

Long and trying as were those rehearsals, there was 
seldom a sign of tedium or impatience on the part of 
any member of the company. They loved their work, 
and, whenever Sullivan came to the theatre with a 
fresh batch of music, every one appeared eager to hear 
it and hungry for more study. As with the chorus, so 
with the principals. There were occasions when a 
singer would, with full assurance of his own perfection, 
give forth some song hardly recognizable by the com- 
poser, whereupon Sullivan would humorously com- 
mend the singer on his capital tune and then he would 
add-— "and now, my friend, might I trouble you to 
try mine ? " 

I remember one instance when a tenor, as tenors 
tte wont to do, lingered unconscionably on a high 
note. Sullivan interrupted him with the remark — 


" Yes, that's a fine note— a very fine note — but please 
do not mistake your voice for my composition/' 

" How rude ! " I fancy I hear some amateur remark. 
Yes, but Arthur Sullivan' s rudeness was more winsome 
than many a lesser man's courtesy. His reproach 
was always so gentle that the most conceited, self- 
opinionated artist could not but accept it with good 


Francois Cellier succeeds his brother Alfred as Musical Director — Comedy 
Opera Company's quarrel with D'Oyly Carte — In the law courts 
— Fracas at Opera Comique — Richard Barker injured — Directors 
at Bow Street Police Court— Gilbert, Sullivan, and D'Oyly Carte's 
visit to America to secure dramatic rights — Michael Gunn, locum 
towns— Richard Barker's Children's Company in " H.M.S. Pina- 

In what I have written on the subject of stage re- 
hearsals I may have somewhat anticipated my own 
personal reminiscences in their proper chronological 
sequence. But, it may be said, the managerial methods 
of procedure, the " orders of the day " which governed 
the early productions at the Opera Comique, continued 
in force to the end of the history of the Savoy. Ac- 
cordingly it may not appear premature to have offered 
in an early chapter some description of Gilbert and 
Sullivan opera-rehearsals which, in their main features, 
were, from first to last, all alike. 

It was in July 1878, whilst " H.M.S. Pinafore " 
was in full sail on its prosperous voyage, that I was 
appointed, on the nomination of Arthur Sullivan, to 
succeed Alfred Cellier as Musical Director of the Opera 
Comique, my brother having, for the time being, 
vacated the post to join Sullivan in conducting a 
season of Promenade Concerts at Covent Garden 



Opera-house, and subsequently to accompany D'Oyly 
Carte to America. 

In the summer of 1879 " H.M.S. Pinafore " found 
itself in troubled waters. Affairs at the Opera Comique 
took a very unhappy turn. The Agreement originally 
entered into between the Comedy Opera Company 
and Mr. D'Oyly Carte as manager and lessee of the 
theatre terminated on July 31st, when Carte, having 
arranged to carry on the concern on his own sole 
account, secured a renewal of the sub-lease from the 
Earl of Dunraven, the lessee of the Opera Comique, 
his lordship's agent and holder of the Lord Chamber- 
lain's licence being Mr. Richard Barker, who, at the 
time, held the post of stage manager under D'Oyly 
Carte. This departure created a serious casus belli 
on the part of the Directors of the Comedy Opera 

Mr. Carte had recently gone to America, and, by 
consent of the Company, had appointed Mr. Michael 
Gunn, by a power of attorney, to act as his substitute 
in the management of the theatre. 

In Carte's absence the Directors, on the ground of 
dissatisfaction with Gunn's management, passed a 
resolution dismissing him: A notice was also posted 
in the theatre stating that Mr. D'Oyly Carte was no 
longer manager, and on July 21st, 1879, a motion was 
heard in the Chancery Division of the High Court of 
Justice to restrain Mr. Michael Gunn from retaining 
possession of the Opera Comique Theatre and from 
receiving the moneys of the Company and otherwise 
interfering with their management of the theatre. 


The motion failed, and Mr. Gnnn continued to act as 
Mr. Carte's locum ten ens. Following this judgment, a 
few evenings later, on Thursday, July 31st, the date 
on which the company's tenure of the theatre expired, 
the 374th representation of " H.M.S. Pinafore " was 
disturbed by a disgraceful incident. As the perform- 
ance of the opera was drawing to a close a cry of " Fire ! " 
was raised by some one in the flies, followed by scuffling 
and tumult. Several of the performers were alarmed, 
and the feeling of insecurity rapidly spread through 
the audience, who began hurriedly to leave the theatre. 
My brother Alfred, who happened on that night to 
be deputizing for me in the conductor's chair, turned 
round to the occupants of the stalls and assured them 
there was no cause for alarm, and begged them to 
remain seated. But the uproar behind the scenes was 
so great that it was impossible to continue the per- 
formance ; so the band was stopped, and then George 
Grossmith, with commendable presence of mind, ap- 
peared before the curtain and announced that a deter- 
mined attempt had been made by a large gang of 
roughs, acting under the inspiration of the Directors, 
to stop the performance and seize the scenery and 
properties. Grossmith' s remarks, though scarcely 
audible above the din of riot and disorder, had the 
effect of restoring confidence in the auditorium. Be- 
hind the curtain the battle continued to rage furiously. 
The gallant crew of " H.M.S. Pinafore," assisted by 
loyal stage hands, soon proved too much for the enemy, 
tod the invaders were quickly driven off the premises. 
During the engagement several of the First Lord's 


sisters and cousins and aunts had fallen in a swoon, 
but "Little Buttercup," the stout-built Portsmouth 
bumboat woman, distinguished herself greatly in 
" repelling boarders/' Chief amongst numerous casu- 
alties were the foreman fireman, who had been severely 
bruised and trodden underfoot, and Mr. Richard 
Barker, who was thrown violently down the steep 
flight of stone steps before referred to. With the aid 
of a strong force of police, order was at length com- 
pletely restored and the programme brought to a 
peaceful conclusion with the operetta " After All/ 1 

As a result of this fracas the Directors of the Comedy 
Opera Company were summoned to appear at Bow 
Street Police Court to answer a charge of assaulting 
Mr. Richard Barker and creating a disturbance at the 
Opera Comique Theatre. In the end D' Oyly Carte and 
Barker won the day and their actions at law, and 
after Gilbert, Sullivan, and Carte had issued a mani- 
festo, making known to the public all the facts of the 
case, the whole lamentable affair was soon forgotten. 

Seeing that the Directors of the Comedy Opera 
Company had put down only £500 each and drew 
£500 weekly, the vanquished party had not done badly 
over their deal in Gilbert and Sullivan operas. 

And now to turn to more agreeable reminiscences. 
Under the new regime of Carte's sole management, 
"H.M.S. Pinafore" continued its successful course. 
Our worthy chief, accompanied by Gilbert and Sullivan, 
had gone to the United States with the special object 
of countermining the plots of American pirates who 
had been guilty of privateering the " Pinafore" and 


who would be ready, if no preventive measures were 
adopted, to steal in the same flagrant manner the next 
Gilbert and Sullivan opera produced. 

Such was the lawless state of affairs existing previous 
to the passing of the International Copyright Act that, 
so far as regards stage-plays, there was no distinction 
recognized betwixt meum and tuum. But there was, 
certainly, a vast distinction between " H.M.S. Pina- 
fore" of England and the American pirate ship sailing 
under its false title and colours. In order to make 
this fact quite evident, our author, composer, and 
manager staged the piece for a week's run in New 
York on the orthodox lines of the Opera Comique pro- 
duction. After that week the pirates happily found 
but poor market for their contraband version of the 
"Pinafore." With the further view of protecting 
their interests by securing American copyright, the 
Triumvirate produced in New York the new opera 
which they had got ready for their next venture in 
London. This was "The Pirates of Penzance, or 
the Slave of Duty." A simultaneous representation 
of the piece was given in England on December 31st, 
1879, a* the Bijou Theatre, Paignton, Devon. Thus 
the copyright in both the United Kingdom and America 
was secured. 

In the meantime, at the Opera Comique, " H.M.S. 
Pinafore" continued to sail along briskly before the 
favouring gales of public applause, and in due course 
logged the 500th performance. 

Familiarity, instead of staling, seemed to add to 
the popularity of the piece. Hackneyed as its tunes 


became; they ceased not to arrest and delight the public 

To Gilbert's play might have been applied the 
remark of the novice theatre-goer who declared be 
liked " Hamlet " chiefly because it contained so many 
quotations. For instance, the phrase " What never ? 
—Hardly ever" — became a British proverb more 
familiar to all sorts and conditions of men and women 
than the Prince of Denmark's famous " To be, or not 
to be." 

The jingo jingl< 

" In spite of all temptations 
To belong to other nations, 
He remains an Englishman 


may be declared to have rivalled in popularity, for the 
time being, the National Anthem. 

The success of " H.M.S. Pinafore " having proved 
an established fact, it entered the mind of Richard 
Barker that a performance of the opera by a com- 
pany of children might prove attractive. The title 
" Pinafore " may, probably, have first inspired this 
novel idea. Be this as it may, the suggestion met 
with the hearty approval of Gilbert, Sullivan, and 
D'Oyly Carte, and with their full sanction Barker 
made search for available juvenile talent, and even- 
tually succeeded in forming a full company to man 
the " Pinafore/ ' and selecting a bevy of charming 
little ladies all under the age of sixteen to represent 
the " sisters, cousins, and aunts." 

Under a sullen, frowning exterior, Richard Barker 


hid a very kind heart. By some " grown-ups/' until 
they came to know him, he was looked upon as a 
harsh, bullying task-master, but in truth he was by 
nature as by name a Barker — not a biter. The little 
ones learnt, by the instinct of youth, the true dis- 
position of " Uncle Dick/ 9 and under his strict discip- 
line became willing and happy pupils of a tutor whose 
love of children was one of his chief characteristics. 

It was raw and rough material to work upon ; at 
the same time, since none of the juvenile corps could 
boast of any stage experience, there was nothing for 
them to unlearn. 

As a matter of course, the vocal score had to be 
re-orchestrated throughout to suit the vocal capa- 
bilities of the youthful singers. This interesting task 
was entrusted to my hands,, and, as it was necessary 
that I should be in close and constant touch with Mr. 
Barker during the rehearsals, Arthur Sullivan very 
kindly placed his London residence at my disposal 
whilst he was absent in America. 

As may readily be imagined, it was no child's-play 
to transpose the key of every song to fit each in- 
dividual child's voice ; the choruses necessitated entire 
rearrangement, especially of the string parts, and in 
the unaccompanied numbers orchestral accompani- 
ment had to be substituted for the support of male 
voices. Nevertheless, despite all difficulties, the labour 
involved was far from uncongenial, and, I would add, 
was more than recompensed by the generous com- 
mendation of the composer and the compliments of 
the critics. 


The production of the children's "Pinafore" took 
place at the Opera Comique on the' afternoon of Tues- 
day, December 16th, 1879, an( i, after running con- 
currently with the evening performances by the adult 
company until February 20th, continued to hold the 
boards until March 20th, when it was withdrawn in 
order to clear the stage for the final rehearsals and 
production of the new opera, "The Pirates of Pen- 

Gilbert, Sullivan, and D'Oyly Carte, having returned 
to England in time to witness the performance, were 
so delighted with the children that they advised the 
members of the elder company to go and take lessons 
from their junior rivals. 

Those of my readers who witnessed the children's 
performance of "H.M.S. Pinafore" will, I am sure, 
share with me the very delightful memories I cherish 
of that remarkable exhibition of youthful talent. 
To others who were not equally privileged it may be 
interesting to learn what the press and public thought 
of the performance. To enable them to do so, I 
cannot do better than quote the words of a leading 
critic, written after the first production. Thus some 
knowledge may be gained of the triumph achieved 
by Richard Barker and his clever little crew. 

" Delighted as we were with the extraordinary 
display of talent we witnessed on the occasion of the 
rehearsal of the children's 'Pinafore,' at the Opera 
Comique, our admiration was even increased when we 
saw the actual performance on Tuesday last. We 
have no hesitation in describing it aslthe most mar- 


vdlous juvenile performance ever seen in the metro- 
polis. So well have these children been taught, and 
so thoroughly do they comprehend their characters, 
that it becomes a source of the keenest enjoyment to 
the spectator to follow their wonderfully attractive 
performance. Many well-known members of the 
theatrical world who saw them at the rehearsal de- 
dared it to be the most remarkable performance they 
have ever attended, and one and all expressed the 
utmost astonishment at the marvellous talents of the 
children. It was not merely that one or two were 
possessed of unusual gifts ; the entire performance was 
complete, finished, correct, and diverting in the ex- 
treme. Anything more whimsically comic than the 
Dick Deadeye of Master William Phillips could not 
be easily imagined. But Master Pickering, as the 
First Lord, was quite as funny in his way, and the 
Captain of Master Harry Grattan was absolutely first- 
rate. Other parts were equally well filled by the young 
gentlemen, and the young ladies were in no respect 
inferior. For example, the little Buttercup of Miss 
Effie Mason completely took the house by storm. The 
little lady was admirably made up, and was as excel- 
lent in her singing as in her acting. Nothing could be 
better, either, than the manner in which the difficult 
text was delivered. Every word was clear and dis- 
tinct, and, what rendered the representation more 
amusing than all, was the original conceptions of 
several of the characters. This gave the performance 
a freshness and individuality of the rarest kind. The 
choruses were sung with great precision, and it was 
delightful to listen to the clear, bell-like voices. The 
greatest praise is due to Mr. R. Barker, under whose 
superintendence the children's ' Pinafore* was produced. 
He taught the youthful artistes all their stage business, 
and has spared no pains in order to make the ensemble 


us perfect as possible ; in teaching the little ones their 
music, Mr. Francois Cellier has been singularly success- 
ful. Finally, we may again declare that it is impos- 
sible to praise too highly the children's ' Pinafore ' at 
the Opera Comique ." 

The following is the cast of the children's " Pina- 
fore" : 


Sir Joseph Porter 
Captain Corcoran 
Ralph Rackstraw 
Dick Deadeye 
Boatswain's mate 
Carpenter's mate 
Josephine . 
Hebe . 
Buttercup . 

Master Edward Pickering 

. Master Harry Grattan 

Master Harry Eversfield 

Master William Phillips 

Master Edward Walsh 

Master Charles Becker 

Miss Emilie Grattan 

Miss Louisa Gilbert 

. Miss Ettie Mason 

With the paying off of the juvenile crew, " H.M.S. 
Pinafore " was put out of commission and laid up in 
reserve ; but, unlike her prototypes, the old wooden 
walls of England, the " Pinafore" was not condemned 
as obsolete. The day would come when the gallant 
" three-decker " would be recommissioned for another 
cruise. And now, just five and thirty years after her 
launch, "H.M.S. Pinafore" is as sea-worthy as ever, 
and bids fair to rival in longevity her parent ship, 
the old Victory, from which she was modelled. 


" The Pirates of Penzance " in America — Gilbertian darts — " Pirates " 

produced at Opera Comique— The critics. 

As mentioned in the last preceding chapter, the first 
production in public of " The Pirates of Penzance, or 
The Slave of Duty," took place at the Fifth Avenue 
Theatre, New York, on New Year's Eve, 1879, a copy- 
right performance being given at Paignton as nearly 
simultaneously as difference in longitude allowed. 

In America the new opera had been received with 
extraordinary favour. Popular as " H.M.S. Pina- 
fore" had been across the Atlantic, "The Pirates 
of Penzance" was declared on all hands to be even 
more attractive, both in its quaintness and originality 
of subject and in its melodious flow of music. The 
piece had, in fact, become the rage of the United 

The performance of the work at Paignton having 
been merely to preserve the legal rights in this country, 
not more than fifty persons had been privileged to 
witness that tentative presentation, so that next to 
nothing was known about " The Pirates " at the time 
when the opera came to be introduced to the British 
public at the Opera Comique Theatre on the evening 
of Saturday, April 3rd, 1880. Consequently the eager- 
5 «s 


ness of Londoners to be present at the premiere was 

In "Trial by Jury" Gilbert had chosen the Law 
as the object of his playful satire ; in " The Sorcerer " 
the parsons were caricatured in the person of the 
sentimental Doctor of Divinity. Then came " H.M.S. 
Pinafore/' to be made the vehicle of good-humoured 
laughter at the expense of the British Navy and its 
ruler-in-chief, the First Lord of the Admiralty. And 
now our author turned the search-light of his brilliant 
satire upon our Army and not less upon our gallant 
guardians in blue, the Police. Here was another 
huge, practical joke to be perpetrated. Most happily, 
neither the military authorities nor those of Scotland 
Yard found cause of offence in being held up to 
playful ridicule that incited no semblance of scorn. 
" In Queen Victoria's name," they accepted the unin- 
tended affront in the same spirit of amiability as that 
shown under similar conditions by the dignitaries of 
the Law, the Church, and the Navy. 

Gilbert's darts were sometimes as exceedingly keen- 
pointed as they were irresistible ; but they were never 
poisoned by any venom of bitterness, and, since no 
distinguished personage ever found the jester's cap to 
fit him, nobody was ever the worse for a dose of Gilbert's 
strange concoction of knock-me-down pick-me-ups. 

With the experience gained by familiarity with 
Gilbert and Sullivan's previous operas, critics and 
amateurs alike had been by this time fully educated 
up to the new school of humour. All were now more 

readily able to appreciate the essence of the fun 


of our two humorists. The consequence was that 
the applause on the opening night of "The Pirates 
of Penzance" was more spontaneous than on any 
previous occasion. 

The Press, now quite assured that Gilbert and 
Sullivan had come to stay, and were more than likely 
to achieve yet further conquests, became less reserved 
and more generous in their critical reviews. With 
the general public it was a matter of individual opinion 
which of the two was the more amusing piece, " Pina- 
fore" or "The Pirates" ; but the general verdict of 
the experts was that the last was the best production 
of Gilbert and Sullivan and D'Oyly Carte. 

It is true that amongst the dramatis personae of the 
new opera were found characters that bore a certain 
family likeness to others to whom we had been intro- 
duced in "H.M.S. Pinafore." Notably a striking 
resemblance was discovered between Sir Joseph Porter, 
K.C.B., the First Lord of the Admiralty, and Major- 
General Stanley. Beyond question the similarity was 
intensified by the individuality of George Grossmith, 
the impersonator of both those characters in turn. 
Again, Ralph Rackstraw, A.B., of " H.M.S. Pinafore," 
and Frederic, the pirate 'prentice, were found to be as 
like in features as twin brothers ; whilst Little Butter- 
cup and Ruth, the piratical maid of all work, bore 
strong evidence of the same parentage. But what 
cared anybody ? They were all such delightful com- 
panions that no one for a moment spurned them 
because of their near relationship to former equally 
delightful people, 


As regards the book, Gilbert had excelled his 
previous efforts in the drollery of his conception. 

For parodying, as he alone of all contemporary 
humorists could do, in his own masterly way, the 
extravagances and mock heroics of melodrama of the 
Tom Cook type, Gilbert had hit on an idea, rich and 
ripe in possibilities of mirth, and of these he availed 
himself to the full. 

Your recognized and responsible critic possesses, 
or, anyway, is supposed to possess, the gift of pro- 
phecy. He can distinguish, as a rule, fixed stars from 
satellites and can — sometimes correctly — foretell the 
fate of the author, not only as regards his work 
under review, but what promise he gives of lasting 

In the light of after events, one finds it a particu- 
larly interesting occupation to "turn up" old press 
cuttings — sere and yellow columns pasted in a guard- 
book, now tumbling to bits, and therein to read what 
"the malignant deities," as Pope called the critics, 
had to say after each successive Gilbert and Sullivan 
production. One will come now and then across 
some note of observation which is calculated to throw 
some doubt on the infallibility of press prognostication. 
For instance, I find one critic — a most worthy and 
distinguished judge of the stage — remarking: 

" A question arises how soon these types of character, 
and also Mr. Gilbert's set form of humour, will be 
worked out. True, the machinery by which Mr. Gilbert 
produces laughter is capable of very varied applica- 
tion. The whole world with all that it contains lies 


before him, to be topsy-turvied at pleasure ; and he 
need but avoid restriction to a limited range of char- 
acter in order, it may be, to keep fast hold upon public 
regard. In what his humour consists everybody 
knows. One of the most prolific sources of laughter 
is the unexpected association of incongruous ideas, 
and Mr. Gilbert draws upon it in a manner peculiar 
to himself. As a rule, humour of this kind is self- 
conscious, not to say rollicking. Those concerned in 
it have, so to speak, put on the livery and taken the 
wages of Nonsense. But the drollery of Mr. Gilbert's 
characters is the more mirth-provoking for the gravity 
and apparent good faith with which they do and say 
the wildest, and, as regards probability, most out- 
rageous things. Our author carries us into what 
looks like real life, to show its realism under the in- 
fluence of pure phantasy, and it is the juxtaposition of 
ordinary people and things with motives, speech, and 
action, possible only on the assumption that the world 
has turned upside down, which excites so keen a 
sense of the ludicrous. At present all this is fresh, and 
we should make much of it. More, we should encourage 
it, because it gives pleasure of the finest and most 
legitimate kind. There is nothing in Mr. Gilbert's 
libretti to shock the most sensitive nature, and their 
success demonstrates what, at one time, seemed 
hardly credible — that, outside its music, a comic opera 
need not appeal to anything save a perception of 
harmless and healthy fun." 

All this is unquestionably legitimate criticism, 
clever and admirable. None but the most captious 
could take exception to it. Yet does it not seem 
to indicate that the reviewer entertained, as yet, 
but scant faith in the lasting quality of Gilbert's 


extravaganzas ? Does not his argument suggest the 
ephemerality of such eccentric humour ? 

Be this as it may, I, for one, find in such doubt- 
raising disquisition and retrospective reading much to 
interest. And, after all, it might be asked, who in 
the theatrical and musical world could have foretold 
that, in this year of grace, 1914, the Gilbert and 
Sullivan operas would be drawing as crowded houses 
as they did in Victorian days ? But it is a fact, 
and, it may be added, "The Pirates of Penzance" 
is at the present day as popular as any of the glorious 

Having thus far recalled to mind some of the expert 
opinions expressed regarding Gilbert's libretto, let us 
now turn again to our press cuttings to discover what 
they had to say concerning Sullivan's share of the 

We find the critics unanimous in extolling the music 
in terms of praise beyond any they had yielded before. 

For example : 

" Mr. Sullivan has carried out more completely than 
ever his original and fanciful idea of caricaturing 
grand opera. The result is that we have music worthy 
in its artistic qualities to rank with some of the best 
efforts of the greatest composers, while it has a piquant 
freshness and buoyancy such as no other modern 
musician has equalled. Our English Auber has given 
us melodies as novel in rhythm as the French com- 
poser, while there is a geniality in them more welcome 
even than the glitter and crisp accent of the Gallic 
school. . . . Many of the musical numbers are abso- 
lutely perfect examples of what such music should be." 


Another critic writes: 

" Mr. Sullivan's share of the work has not been less 
well done than that of his clever colleague. Indeed, 
from a musical point of view ' The Pirates of Penzance ' 
is a distinct improvement upon both ' Trial by Jury • 
and ' The Pinafore.' There is scarcely a dull bar in 
it, while every number not only pleases by its adapted- 
ness to the theme and situation, but presents features 
upon which the connoisseur who is not content with 
ear-tickling melodies can dwell with satisfaction. 

" It is hard to say whether Mr. Sullivan's humorous 
or sentimental music carries off the palm in this case. 
The composer has entered thoroughly into the spirit of 
the dramatist — so thoroughly that the result of their 
joint labours is as though it were the product of only 
one mind. With the utmost flexibility Mr. Sullivan 
follows the turnings and windings of Mr. Gilbert's 
eccentric fancy, and it can never be said that the one 
is not as funny or as pathetic as the other. 

" It will surprise us greatly if ' The Pirates of Pen- 
zance ' be not strictly recognized as the most brilliant 
specimen of the combined efforts to which we already 
owe 'The Sorcerer' and 'H.M.S. Pinafore/ The 
subject of the present opera enables both author and 
composer to give greater breadth to their efforts." 

Such words echoed from the past assist us in realizing 
what measure of encouragement was meted out to our 
author and composer as they passed each successive 
milestone on the high road to fame. 


of Penzance" copyright performance— Fred BilMngton — 
Richard Mansfield— Federic*— John Le Hay— Cast of "The 
Pirates " in New York— American Musical Trades Union—" U.S.S. 
Pinafore " — German " Pinafore " — Marion Hood — Sir George 
Power — Julia Gwynne — Emily Cross. 

Now perhaps it may interest some to learn how it 
came to pass that the copyright performance of " The 
Pirates of Penzance " was given in such an insignificant, 
out-of-the-world locality as a seaside village in South 
Devon. This was simply owing to the fact that 
Mr. D'Oyly Carte's touring company happened at the 
time to be playing " H.M.S. Pinafore " at Torquay, to 
which town Paignton is closely adjacent. The Paign- 
ton playhouse, although but a mere bandbox as to 
size, was by no means the ordinary fit-up barn common 
to small country towns. The Bijou Theatre was, 
indeed, the pride and hobby of a local magnate, Mr. 
William Dendy, a man of wealth and great artistic 

The stage appointments and accessories were of 
an up-to-date character, the auditorium was luxuri- 
ously furnished, and its walls were hung with a fine 
collection of pictures. The Bijou was, in brief, worthy 
of its title, and so not unworthy the historic fame it 
was destined to attain as the birthplace of the renowned 

" Pirates of Penzance/' 




The following copy of the original play-bill of the 
opera may be acceptable as a curiosity. Here it is 
k exienso: 

Tuesday, December 30, 1879 

For one day only, at two o'clock, an entirely new and original 
opera by Messrs. W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, entitled : 



Being its first production in any country 

ICajor-General . , Mr. R. Mansfield 

The Pirate King .... Mr. Federici 

Frederic .... Mr. Cadwallader 

(A Pirate) 

Samuel Mr. Lacknor 

James Mr. Le Hay 

Sergeant of Police . . Mr. Billington 

Mabel Miss Petrelli 

Edith Miss May 

Isabel Miss K. Neville 

Kate Miss Monmouth 

Ruth Miss Fanny Harrison 

SCENE. — Act i. — A Cavern by the sea-shore. 

Act 2. — A ruined Chapel by moonlight. 

Doors open at half-past one. Commence at two. 
Sofa Stalls, 3s., Second Seats, 2s., Area, is., Gallery, 6d. 
Tickets to be had at the Gerston Hotel. 

Conductor .... Mr. Ralph Horner 
Acting Manager . Mr. Herbert Brook 


Most notable amongst the above names is that of 
Mr. Fred Billington, who may thus rightly claim to 
have created the part of the famous Sergeant of Police, 
although that character must ever remain associated 
in the mind of Londoners with the name of Rutland 

Fred Billington is to-day the doyen of actors in 
Gilbert and Sullivan operas. For thirty-five years 
his talents have been faithfully devoted to the service 
of his old friends, Mr. and Mrs. D'Oyly Carte. His 
appearances at the Savoy Theatre have been brief 
and intermittent, because, as the years have rolled 
on, the comedian has so deeply ingratiated himself 
into the hearts of play-goers through the length and 
breadth of the United Kingdom that without the 
name of Fred Billington on the bills no D'Oyly Carte 
touring company has been considered fully complete 
and welcome anywhere. His portly frame, his dry, 
unctuous humour, and clear and incisive diction, 
have transformed the popular actor into a veritable 
Gilbertian creation, as it were. Veteran as he now 
is, Fred Billington to the present day retains to a 
remarkable degree all those individual attributes that 
have made him so popular in the wider theatrical 
world that lies beyond the inner walls of London. 

The list of Paignton performers of " The Pirates " 
included Mr. Richard Mansfield, an admirable singing 
comedian, who, after serving for a while and obtaining 
honours under the D'Oyly Carte management, quitted 
England for America. In the States Dick Mansfield 
became an established favourite, and his death, which 


occurred a few years ago, was lamented by a large 
number of friends and professional colleagues on both 
sides of the Atlantic. 

Another to whom a note of remembrance may here 
be given was Mr. Federici, the first impersonator of 
the Pirate King, and one of the best baritone singers 
and actors among past Savoyards. Poor Federici* s 
tragic death whilst appearing as " Mephistopheles " 
in Australia will not have been forgotten by any to 
whom his name was once familiar in the theatrical 

Mr. John Le Hay will be remembered in association 
with the Savoy Theatre as an occasional recruit in 
the Gilbert and Sullivan ranks. In later years his 
talents have been distributed over various theatrical 
fields, and have earned for him in London and the 
provinces a wide measure of popularity both as actor 
and entertainer. 

Touching for a moment the American production of 
11 The Pirates of Penzance," it may be unnecessary here 
to do more than place on record the original cast of 
principals who presented the opera at the — 


December 31st, 1879 

Major-General Stanley • . . Mr. J. H. Ryley 
The Pirate King .... Mr. Brocolini 
Samuel .... Mr. Furneaux Cook 

(His lieutenant) 
Frederic .... Mr. Hugh Talbot 

(The pirate apprentice) 


Sergeant of Police . . Mr. F. Clifton 

Mabel . Miss Blanche Roosevelt 

Edith Miss Jessie Bond 

Kate Miss Rosina Brandram 

Isabel Miss Billie Barlow 

{General Stanley's daughters) 
Ruth Miss Alice Barnett 

(Pirate maid of all work) 

With one or two exceptions the artists included in 
this cast had been brought from England by E^Oyly 
Carte. Specially noteworthy are the names of Jessie 
Bond, Rosina Brandram, and Alice Barnett, all of 
whom, after a very successful season in America, 
returned home further to establish their reputations 
as leading lights of the Savoy. 

The opera was rehearsed and produced in New York 
under the personal supervision of author and composer. 
Sullivan conducted on the opening night, after which 
the musical direction was left in the hands of my 
brother Alfred. 

Arthur Sullivan had an amusing story to tell of his 
experience in association with American bandsmen. 
These gentlemen were all under the strict control 
of a musical trade union. A scale of charges was 
laid down for every kind of instrumentalist according 
to the nature and degree of his professional engage- 
ment. For example, a member of a Grand Opera 
orchestra must demand higher pay than one who was 
engaged for ordinary lyric work, such as Musical 
Comedy, and so on, down to the humblest class of 
musical entertainment. Accordingly, when the an- 


nouncement went forth that the opening performance 
of "The Pirates of Penzance" would be conducted 
by Mr. Sullivan, and the manager of the theatre had 
taken pains to impress upon his orchestra the greatness 
of the honour that would be theirs of playing under 
the baton of England's most famous composer, the 
bandsmen showed their appreciation of such distinction 
by demanding from the management increased salaries 
on the Grand Opera scale. There seemed likely to be 
"ructions." Whereupon, Arthur Sullivan, with char- 
acteristic tact and sang froid, addressed the men in 
modest terms. Disclaiming any title to the exalted 
honours they would thrust upon him, he protested 
that, on the contrary, he should esteem it a high 
privilege to conduct such a fine body of instrumenta- 
lists. At the same time, rather than become the cause 
of any dispute or trouble among them, he was pre- 
pared to cable home to England for his own orchestra, 
which he had specially selected for the forthcoming 
Leeds Festival. He hoped, however, that such a 
course might be avoided. The Americans promptly 
took the gentle hint, and agreed not to charge extra 
for the honour of being conducted by Mr. Arthur 

Before leaving the subject of our Savoyards in 
America, let me venture to relate a little story, for 
the authenticity of which I cannot vouch 

A certain American impresario, whose patriotism 
excelled his judgment, suggested to Gilbert that, 
*Wle ? H.M.S. Pinafore " had decidedly caught on 
in New York, he guessed that they could heap up a 


bigger pile of dollars if an American version of the 
piece were prepared. 

" Say now, Mr. Gilbert," said our American friend, 
" all you've got to do is first to change H.M.S. to U.S.S., 
pull down the British ensign and hoist the Stars and 
Stripes, and anchor your ship off Jersey Beach. Then 
in the place of your First Lord of Admiralty introduce 
our Navy Boss. All the rewriting required would be 
some new words to Bill Bobstay*s song — just let him 
remain an American instead of an Englishman. Now 
ain't that a cute notion, sir ? " 

Gilbert, pulling at his moustache, replied : " Well 
— yes — perhaps your suggestion is a good one ; but I 
see some difficulties in carrying it out. In the first 
place, I am afraid I am not sufficiently versed in your 
vernacular to translate my original English words. 
The best I could do would be something like this 
improvisation : 

" He is Ameri-can. 
Tho' he himself has said it, 
Tis not much to his credit 
That he is Ameri-can — 
For he might have been a Dutchman, 
An Irish, Scotch, or such man, 
Or perhaps an Englishman. 

But, in spite of hanky-panky, 

He remains a true-born Yankee, 

A cute Ameri-can/' 

The New York impresario was delighted — vowed it 
would save the situation and set New York ablaze. 
Mr. Gilbert replied that, after two minutes 9 careful 


consideration, he didn't think it would do at all. He 
was afraid that such words might disturb the friendly 
relations existing between the United States of America 
and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. 

" Besides, my friend/' Gilbert added, " you must 
remember / remain an Englishman. No, sir, as long 
as 'H.M.S. Pinafore' holds afloat she must keep the 
Union Jack flying." 

"Quite appreciate your patriotic sentiments, Mr. 
Gilbert/' replied the American, " but say — ain't it 
c*rect that ' Pinafore ' was translated into German ? ' ' 

" Quite correct — and played in Germany, but under 
its Teutonic name ' Amor am Bord ' it was not easy for 
any one to imagine that the ship had been taken from 
ike English: 9 

This sounds like a Transatlantic fairy-tale. But it 
is repeated here for what it is worth. 

Having seen their " Pirates" safely established in 
America, our author and composer, with D'Oyly Carte, 
returned to London and set to work on rehearsals of 
the opera there. For the third time Gilbert had 
created parts specially fitted to the peculiar talents 
and characteristics of the three popular favourites, 
Grossmith, Barrington, and Temple. George Power 
*as re-engaged for the leading tenor role, and for 
Prima-donna a new soprano had been unearthed in the 
person of Miss Marion Hood, a young lady whose 
d&ut was to prove one of the most brilliantly success* 
hi ever witnessed under the D'Oyly Carte regime. 
The music allotted to the part of Mabel in the 
" Pirates of Penzance " is not only some of the daintiest, 


most graceful, and florid of any Sullivan wrote for light 
opera, but is the most exacting to the vocal powers 
and capabilities of the singer, notably Mabel's first song 
"Poor Wandering One/' with its difficult staccato 
passages, and again in the delightful duet with Frederic 
in the second act, " O leave me not to pine alone and 
desolate/ ' Marion Hood, however, proved equal to 
all requirements, and her triumph was considered by 
press and public to be one of the notable features of 
the new opera. 

In the small part of Edith, Miss Julia Gwynne, pro- 
moted from the chorus, made a favourable impression 
by her bright acting and fascinating personality. 
Close following the young artiste's success in " The 
Pirates" came two important offers of engagement. 
The first was a professional one, which Miss Gwynne 
accepted, from Mr. and Mrs. Bancroft to appear in 
comedy wider their management at the Haymarket 
Theatre. This proved in every way a success ; but it 
was not so permanent or eventful as the other en- 
gagement of a matrimonial kind which culminated 
in Julia Gwynne becoming the partner for life of 
Mr. George Edwardes, our future theatrical Kaiser. 
Mr. Edwardes was at that time acting-manager to Mr. 
D'Oyly Carte, an office which he continued to hold at 
the Savoy for some years before joining Mr. John 
Hollingshead in the management of the Gaiety. 
Julia Gwynne was a general favourite with all her 
" playmates" at the Opera Comique ; she was, indeed, 
looked upon as the life and soul of our company. 

Another lady member of the original " Pirates of 


Penzance " crew was that gifted artiste, Miss Emily 
Cross. Owing to the sadden illness of Miss Everard, 
who had been cast for the character of Ruth, the 
piratical maid of all work, the part was undertaken 
by Miss Cross at twenty-four hours' notice. This was 
a remarkable instance of quick study. Such a task 
as that set Miss Cross could have been successfully 
fulfilled by none but an actress of great experience 
and consummate ability. Miss Cross's success was 
as marked as it was richly deserved. 

An amusing incident occurred during rehearsal. 
In Act II., where the Major-General and his daughter 
Mabel are captured by the pirates, Frederic, who is 
supposed to have appeared on the scene, neglected 
his cue and was off the stage ; accordingly, when Mabel 

" Frederic, save us," 

Gilbert stood sponsor for the absent tenor, and, adopt- 
ing his own tune, gave forth — 

" I'd sing if I could, but I am not able." 

The Pirates, unchecked, sang : 

" He would if he could, but he is not able." 

Sullivan observed that it might be worse ; but, on his 
part, he thought the character of Frederic wanted power. 
Then, turning to the dilatory actor, added, " and strict 
ka#o, if you please, Mr. Power." 
And now to bring to a close our comments on " The 


Pirates of Penzance/' which ran for 363 nights at the 
Opera Comique, we give hereunder the list of the 
principals who presented the piece at the — 


Saturday, April yd, 1880 

Major-General Stanley . . Mr. George Grossmith 
The Pirate King .... Mr. R. Temple 

Samuel .... Mr. George Temple 

(His lieutenant) 

Frederic .... Mr. George Power 

(The pirate apprentice) 

Sergeant of Police . . Mr. Rutland Barrington 

Mabel Miss Marion Hood 

(General Stanley's daughter) 

Edith Miss Julia Gwynne 

Kate Miss Lilian La Rue 

Isabel Miss Neva Bond 

Ruth Miss Emily Cross 

(A pirate maid of all work) 


D'Oyty Carte plans new theatre — The Aesthetic craze—" Patience " — 
Bnrnand and Du Maurier's creations — " The Colonel " — Durward 
Lely — Frank Thornton — Alice Barnett — Leonora Braham — " Pa- 
tience " rehearsals and production — British play-goer s Success 
of " Patience " — Lyric gems from " Patience." 

Nearly three and a half years had now passed since 
the production of "The Sorcerer/' Three Gilbert 
and Sullivan operas had been brought to light and 
passed to glory. "The Sorcerer " had numbered 
l 75 performances ; " H.M.S. Pinafore " (including 
the children's version) 700 ; and " The Pirates of 
Penzance " 363 ; in all, 1,238 performances. Through- 
out the whole period the tide of prosperity had never 
ceased to flow. Fortune had been wooed and won 
beyond the most flattering dreams. 

The lease of the Opera Comique was soon to 
expire, but, instead of seeking its renewal, D'Oyly 
Carte, ever shrewd and adventurous, determined on 
* more ambitious scheme. He would build his own 
theatre. It should be one specially suited to the re- 
quirements of the new school of comic opera, in the 
^plotting and founding of which he had himself been 
the prime mover and business factor. And so the 
astute manager, confining his own counsel to his col- 
feagues, Gilbert and Sullivan, sat down carefully to 


consider figures and to map out plans for his new 
play-house. Then he began to search for a suitable 

Meanwhile, the fourth opera was placed in rehearsal. 
Society for a few seasons past had been suffering 
from an epidemic of hybrid aestheticism. Under the 
apostleship of Oscar Wilde, "a passion for a lily" 
had over-mastered the conventional Englishman's 
love of the rose. Everybody and everything wore a 
pewtery grey, " greenery-yallery " complexion. Bright 
reds, scarlets, crimsons, and blues which had, before 
that period, helped to dissipate the murk and fog of 
town were now condemned as heresies against high 
art. The adherents to primitive colours and natural 
attitudes were looked upon as Philistines and excom- 
municated from society. Few survivors of that bilious, 
unbrawny age, would dare in these days to confess 
ever having yielded to the craze of the early eighties, 
for sorely were those preposterous, ape-like beings 
smitten, hip and thigh, by the scourge of ridicule. 

First of the Philistines to take up arms against the 
mock aestheticism was our old friend Punch. Burnand 
and Du Maurier by their memorable caricatures 
" Postlethwaite Maudle," and the "Cimabue Browns," 
led the attack in the London Charivari. These first 
awakened town to the absurdity of the new-fangled 
fashion set by the Oscar Wilde tribe. At the little 
Prince of Wales Theatre in Tottenham Court Road, 
Burnand, in his comedy, " The Colonel," further lashed 
out with the whip of scorn. But it was not likely 
that Gilbert would let such a scope for justifiable satire 



escape his attention. Although his idea of a skit on 
the aesthetic craze may have been anticipated by his 
rival humorist, Gilbert, in the earliest days of the 
epidemic, had set to work to dispense a bolus for the 
cure of the evil. As a matter of fact, made clear at 
the time, " Patience " was written in November 1880. 
This was before the production of "The Colonel." 
The success of " The Pirates of Penzance " had, how- 
ever, precluded the earlier production of the aesthetic 
opera, and it was not until April 23rd, 188 1, that 
"Patience, or Bunt home's Bride," was presented to 
the impatient public at the Opera Comique Theatre 
by the following dramatis petsonae : 

Colonel Calverley . . Mr. Richard Temple 

Major Murgatroyd . . Mr. Frank Thornton 

Lieut, the Duke of Dunstable Mr. Durward Lely 

(Officers of Dragoon Guards) 
Reginald Bunthorne . . Mr. George Grossmith 

(A fleshly poet) 
Archibald Grosvenor . . Mr. Rutland Barrington 

(An idyllic poet) 
Mr. Bunthorne 's Solicitor . . Mr. G. Bowley 

Chorus of Officers of Dragoon Guards 

The Lady Angela . . . Miss Jessie Bond 

The Lady Saphir . . Miss Julia Gwynne 

The Lady Ella .... Miss M. Fortescue 

The Lady Jane . . . Miss Alice Barnett 

(Rapturous Maidens) 

Patience .... Miss Leonora Braham 

(A Dairymaid) . 

Chorus of Rapturous 

The cast of the opera, as will be seen, comprised 


many of the old-established favourites. To their 
number were now added some notable recruits, viz. : 
Mr. Durward Lely, Mr. Frank Thornton, Miss Alice 
Barnett, and last, not least, Miss Leonora Braham. 
Each one and all of these artistes proved worthy of 
their calling to the Gilbert and Sullivan colours, and 
failed not later to win great popularity at the Savoy. 

Among my reminiscences, none is more amusing 
to my own mind, to-day, than the recollection of the 
rehearsals of " Patience/' It will be easy for any one 
to imagine the spirit of mirth and fun that pervaded 
the company while Gilbert drilled each individual to 
assume the eccentric " goose-step," and the stained- 
glass attitude of mediaeval art, and taught them to 
speak in the ultra-rapturous accents of the poetaster. 
The " business* ' was all so novel and so excruciatingly 
funny that the most sedate and strict stage discip- 
linarian could not but hold his ribs with laughter. 
Particularly ludicrous was the coaching of the Duke, 
Colonel, and Major for their Trio and dance, after 
these gallant officers of Horse Guards have trans- 
formed themselves into aesthetic idiots in order to make 
a lasting impression on the young ladies of their choice. 
Nothing more comical was ever witnessed at stage- 
rehearsal than the initiation of the three proud soldiers 
into the mysterious antics of the " Inner Brotherhood/' 

It is only just to mention here that, in the drilling 
and fantastic dance-teaching of the company, Gilbert 
was greatly assisted by Mr. John D'Auban, that clever 
master of the terpsichorean art whose services were 
called into requisition at the rehearsal of many of the 


Gilbert and Sullivan operas. Would that I had jotted 
down at the time the many amusing episodes and 
verbal quips of both our author and composer that 
accompanied the " Patience " rehearsals. I should 
not have failed to take notes had I dreamed in those 
days how it would ever fall to my lot to offer the 
public my personal reminiscences. 

As a matter of course, an enormous crowd assembled 
for the first night of the new opera. Many quidnuncs 
came prepared to be disappointed. Some thought 
they had been satiated with aesthetic fare. They 
doubted whether even Gilbert might not fail to extract 
new fun out of the already much-discussed subject. 

There are no play-goers in the world more appre- 
ciative or lavish in their praise, when they get precisely 
what they want, than the British. But they are not 
always easy to please. They are fastidious and they 
are fickle. They will follow like a flock of sheep when 
the bell-wether leads them to new pastures. The 
playwright they idolize to-day as a god they are ready 
to pull down to-morrow if haply he fails for a moment 
to fulfil early promise. Perhaps it is hardly just to 
speak in these caustic terms of play-goers as a body. 
Such remarks must be taken to apply more directly to 
the cynical, quasi-critical, blasi individuals, of whom 
there are too many, who, " fed up " with their own self- 
conceit, come to the theatre with a jaded palate and 
n <> appetite, ready to damn with faint praise, if not 
utterly to scorn, the new work which the poor author 
has devoted months upon months of anxious labour 
to provide. 


The composer stands in the same condemnation 
and equally at the mercy of these senseless croakers. 
If, perchance, he be found to have, quite unconsciously, 
repeated so much as a phrase even of his own music, 
down they pounce on him either with a charge of 
plagiarism or with a lack of originality. 

Is it, then, to be wondered at that success on the 
British stage is so difficult to achieve ? 

Like every other author and composer, Gilbert and 
Sullivan had to elbow their way through the crowd of 
obstructionists who seem to take positive offence that 
quaint wit and humour beyond their own dull minds 
to understand is attracting crowds to the theatre. 
Accordingly, although Gilbert and Sullivan had long 
passed the Rubicon, amongst the vast audience that 
packed the Opera Comique for the premiere of 
" Patience " there were doubtless many of these 
would-be wreckers. But their croaking was drowned 
by the thunders of applause that accompanied the 
opera from rise to fall of curtain. 

Gilbert and Sullivan had scored another brilliant, 
instantaneous success. Moreover, they had, on this 
occasion, done something more than amuse the people ; 
they had provided an object-lesson which would prove 
useful as an antidote to the poison that was enervating 

" Postlethwaite " and "Maudle" had done much 
to check the aesthetic impostors, but " Bunthorne, the 
fleshly poet," and " Grosvenor, the idyllic poet/' now 
came to discomfit and utterly rout the preposterous 
mountebanks and false disciples of high art. 


The shaft of Gilbert's ridicule was not launched 
against pure aesthetic taste, which was, undoubtedly, 
tending to raise and refine the tone of modern society, 
bat, in opposing the sham affectation and folly then 
rife, our author struck home with relentless force and 

Sullivan on his part, as usual, entered thoroughly 
into the spirit of Gilbert's mood. The audience, 
listening as attentively to every bar of the music as 
to every witty word of the libretto, discovered how the 
composer had made every instrument in the orchestra 
seem to poke fun and ridicule at the objects of their 

Seated as I was, night after night, week following 
week, in the conductor's chair, literally saturated with 
the opera, some new point of Sullivan's jocularity was 
constantly awakened in my mind for the first time. 
I might fill pages with a description of my own per- 
sonal impressions, but, since these must have been 
shared by all understanders of music, I refrain from 
alluding to more than one or two of the multitude 
of instances of the composer's remarkable power of 

For example, by what tone device could Bunthorne's 
timorous confession of being a sham be more aptly 
expressed than by the recitative accompanying the 

" Am I alone, 

And unobserved ? I am. 
Then let me own — 
I'm an aesthetic sham I 


This air severe 
Is but a mere 
Veneer ! 
This cynic smile 
Is but a wile 
Of guile ! 
This costume chaste 
Is but good taste 
Misplaced t 

" A languid love of lilies does not blight me ! 
Lank limbs and haggard cheeks do not delight me ! 
I do not care for dirty greens 

By any means ; 
I do not long for all one sees 

That's Japanese. 
I am not fond of uttering platitudes 
In stained-glass attitudes. 
In short, my medievalism's affectation 
Born of a morbid love for admiration t " 

The chant-like tone of that recitative afforded 
striking contrast and emphasis to Bunt home's 
following song, the simple melody of which was 
elaborated and enriched by its delightful orchestration. 
Daintiest of dainty numbers to linger on the ear is the 
duet between Patience and Grosvenor: 

" Prithee pretty maiden, prithee tell me true/' 

with its plaintive, old-world, madrigal style about it 
which reminds the hearer of tunes popular a century 
ago, and captivates present-day audiences more, per- 
haps, than any other throughout the "Patience" 
Then, again, among the most popular songs of the 


opera, one in which Sullivan displayed his subtle 
humour is Lady Jane's Recitative and Song, which 
opens the second Act. 

" Sad is that woman's lot, who, year by year. 
Sees, one by one, her beauties disappear ; 
When Time, grown weary of her heart-drawn sighs, 
Impatiently begins to ' dim her eyes.' " 

Gilbert's words, a mixture of pure poetry and chaff, 
set to Sullivan's music as solemn as an oratorio by 
Handel, produce an amazing effect upon an audience, 
and succeed in dispersing the qualms of those who are 
disposed to call Gilbert rude in causing a lady to make 
fen of her own physical deformity. 

But from a purely musical point of view I would 
Qrtol, beyond all other numbers in the opera, the 


" I hear the soft note of the echoing voice " — 

which occurs in the Finale of Act I. 

Here the composer gives a remarkable exhibition of 
his genius for adapting music to the occasion. More- 
over, it was a striking instance of Gilbert's appreciation 
<rf his colleague's music. 

In order to give the best effect to the sestette, it 
was sung by principals and chorus without the slightest 
Movement or action on the stage. In other words. 
Precisely as it might be rendered on a concert plat- 
form, except that Gilbert took special pains as regards 

the picturesque and most effective grouping of the 


No more beautiful setting of beautiful words was 
ever heard in comic opera. Would that it were prac- 
ticable to enrich this volume with a copy in extenso of 
that exquisite composition ; but it must suffice to adorn 
a page with the poem that inspired Arthur Sullivan 
to the loftiest height of melody. 

The stage direction reads thus : " Angela, Saphir, 
and Ella take Colonel, Duke, and Major down, while 
girls gaze fondly at other officers/' 

And these are Gilbert's words : 

" I hear the soft note of the echoing voice 
Of an old, old love, long dead — 
It whispers my sorrowing heart ' Rejoice ' — 
For the last sad tear is shed — 
The pain that is all but a pleasure we'll change 
For the pleasure that's all but vain, 
And never, oh never, this heart will range 
From that old, old love again." 


Building of the Savoy — Testing fire-extinguishers — "Star-Harden 
Grenades " — D'Oyly Carte's address to the public. 

After much difficulty and prolonged search, D'Oyly 
Carte succeeded in procuring a suitable site for his 
new theatre. It was a very rough, sloping patch of 
ground situated close by the Thames Embankment, 
within the precincts of the ancient Savoy and ad- 
jacent to the Chapel Royal. The approach from the 
Strand was down the precipitous Beaufort Street, the 
most fragrant thoroughfare in all London, for on its 
east side stood the establishment of RimmeTs, the 
famous perfumers. 

Remembrance of the odour of Ess. Bouquet and of 
patchouli, which in those days impregnated Society, is 
somewhat acidulated by the recollection of other less 
delectable scents that came wafted from Burgess's 
noted fish-sauce shop, which flourished a few yards 
farther eastward in the Strand. 

Such reflections on scents and sauces must be 
taken as reminiscences whispered " aside." They had 
nothing whatever to do with D'Oyly Carte's selection 
of a site. To the ordinary mind's purview, there ap- 
peared little attractive in that wild and rugged waste- 
plot to tempt one to build a home of pleasure upon 



it. But our far-seeing manager recognized advantages 
in the situation. So dogged was Carte's energy and 
determination that, the greater the difficulty that 
faced him, the greater pleasure he found in the task 
of making rough ways smooth. 

The wild and flowery acres of Aldwych which to-day 
offer themselves to the prospective builder were not, 
unfortunately, available to Mr. Carte. The Opera 
Comique was then occupying part of that ground. It 
yet remained the home of Gilbert and Sullivan's 
creations, pending the completion of their new play- 
house. And so it was to the unkempt wilderness of 
the ancient Savoy that Carte was driven with his plans 
and designs, his bricks and mortar. 

With such promptness and despatch was the work 
of building carried out that, within the space of a 
few months, the Savoy Theatre was completed and 
ready for occupation. 

Among my readers may be some who remember a 
little incident that occurred dining the process of 
raising the Savoy Theatre. A trifling incident, yet, 
I think, not without sufficient interest to recall. 

In order to test the efficacy of a new patent fire- 
extinguisher called the "Star-Harden Grenade/' an 
exhibition of its capabilities was given on a plot of 
waste ground on which now stands the Savoy Hotel. 
Among the select company of guests present was 
H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh, who was much in- 
terested in the experiments. 

A wooden building, saturated with tar, was set fire to. 

When it blazed, a number of the grenades— globular 


glass bottles resembling liqueur flagons — were hurled 
and broken against the burning boards, with the result 
that floods of magic lotion burst out upon and imme- 
diately extinguished the flames. The experiment 
was so successful that D'Oyly Carte added the Star- 
Harden Grenades, to the number of novelties he in- 
tended introducing for the first time in any theatre. 

I have not forgotten how the proprietors of the 
patent made me a timely present of a case of the 
grenades, and thus enabled me personally further to 
test their value in private by extinguishing a fire 
which very shortly afterwards broke out in my home. 

On the eve of the opening of the Savoy Theatre a 
select number of friends, critics, managers, and others 
interested in theatres were invited by Mr. Carte to in- 
spect the house. Loud were the paeans of praise poured 
upon the head of the proud manager by all present. 

As a true and authentic record in detail of the mani- 
fold pomps and glories of the new theatre, we cannot 
do better than reproduce here Mr. D'Oyly Carte's 
inaugural address. 


" Ladies and Gentlemen, — I beg leave to lay 
before you some details of a new theatre, which I have 
caused to be built with the intention of devoting it 
to the representation of the operas of Messrs. W. S. 
Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, with whose joint pro- 
ductions I have, up to now, had the advantage of being 

" The Savoy Theatre is placed between the Strand 



and the Victoria Embankment, on a plot of land of 
which I have purchased the freehold, and is built on 
a spot possessing many associations of historic interest, 
being close to the Savoy Chapel and in the ' precinct 
of the Savoy/ where stood formerly the Savoy Palace, 
once inhabited by John of Gaunt and the Dukes of 
Lancaster, and made memorable in the Wars of the 
Roses. On the Savoy Manor there was formerly a 
theatre. I have used the ancient name as an appro- 
priate title for the present one. 

" The new theatre has been erected from the designs 
and under the superintendence of Mr. C. J. Phipps, 
F.S.A., who has probably more experience in the build- 
ing of such places than any architect of past or present 
times, having put up, I believe, altogether thirty- 
three or thirty-four theatres. 

" The facade of the theatre towards the Embank- 
ment, and that in Beaufort Buildings, are of red brick 
and Portland stone. The theatre is large and com- 
modious, but little smaller than the Gaiety, and will 
seat 1,292 persons. 

" I think I may claim to have carried out 
some improvements deserving special notice. The 
most important of these are in the lighting and 

" From the time, now some years since, that the 
first electric lights in lamps were exhibited outside the 
Paris Opera-house, I have been convinced that electric 
light in some form is the light of the future for use in 
theatres, not to go further. The peculiar steely blue 
colour and the flicker which are inevitable in all systems 
of ' arc ' lights, however, make them unsuitable for 
use in any but very large buildings. The invention 
of the ' incandescent lamp ' has now paved the way 
for the application of electricity to lighting houses, and 
consequently theatres. 


"The 'arc' light is simply a continuous electric 
spark, and is nearly the colour of lightning. The 
incandescent light is produced by heating a filament 
of carbon to a white heat, and is much the colour of 
gas — a little clearer. Thanks to an ingenious method 
of * shunting ' it, the current is easily controllable, and 
the lights can be raised or lowered at will. There are 
several extremely good incandescent lamps, but I 
finally decided to adopt that of Mr. J. W. Swan, the 
well-known inventor, of Newcastle-on-Tyne. The 
enterprise of Messrs. Siemens Bros. & Co. has enabled 
me to try the experiment of exhibiting this light in 
my theatre. About 1,200 lights are used, and the 
power to generate a sufficient current for these is 
obtained from large steam-engines, giving about 120 
horse-power, placed on some open land near the theatre. 
The new light is not only used in the audience part of 
the theatre, but on the stage, for footlights, side and 
top lights, etc., and (not of the least importance for 
the comfort of the performers) in the dressing-rooms 
— in fact, in every part of the house. This is the first 
time that it has been attempted to light any public 
building entirely by electricity. What is being done 
is an experiment, and may succeed or fail. It is not 
possible, until the application of the accumulator or 
secondary battery — the reserve store of electric power 
— becomes practicable, to guarantee absolutely against 
any breakdown of the electric light. To provide 
against such a contingency, gas is laid on throughout 
the building, and the ' pilot ' light of the central sun- 
burner will always be kept alight, so that in case of 
accident the theatre can be flooded with gas-light in a 
few seconds. The greatest drawbacks to the enjoy- 
ment of the theatrical performances are, undoubtedly, 
the foul air and heat which pervade all theatres. As 
every one knows, eachjjjas-burner consumes as much 


oxygen as many people, and causes great heat besides* 
The incandescent lamps consume no oxygen, and cause 
no perceptible heat. If the experiment of electric 
lighting succeeds, there can be no question of the 
enormous advantages to be gained in purity of air and 
coolness — advantages the value of which it is hardly 
possible to over-estimate. 

"The decorations of this theatre are by Messrs. 
Collinson & Lock. 

" I venture to think that, with some few exceptions, 
the interiors of most theatres hitherto built have been 
conceived with little, if any, artistic purpose, and 
generally executed with little completeness, and in a 
more or less garish manner. Without adopting either 
the styles known as ' Queen Anne ' and ' Early English/ 
or entering upon the so-called ' aesthetic ' manner, a 
result has now been produced which I feel sure will 
be appreciated by all persons of taste. Paintings of 
cherubim, muses, angels, and mythological deities 
have been discarded, and the ornament consists 
entirely of delicate plaster modelling, designed in the 
manner of the Italian Renaissance. The main colour- 
tones are white, pale yellow, and gold — gold used only 
for backgrounds or in large masses, and not — following 
what may be called, for want of a worse name, the 
Gingerbread School of Decorative Art — for gilding 
relief-work or mouldings. The back walls of the boxes 
and the corridors are in two tones of Venetian red. 
No painted act-drop is used, but a curtain of creamy 
satin, quilted, having a fringe at the bottom and a 
valance of embroidery of the character of Spanish work, 
keeps up the consistency of the colour-scheme. This 
curtain is arranged to drape from the centre. The 
stalls are covered with blue plush of an inky hue, and 
the balcony seats are of stamped velvet of the same 
tint, while the curtains of the boxes are of yellowish 


silk, brocaded with a pattern of decorative flowers in 
broken colour. 

" To turn to a very different subject. I believe a 
fertile source of annoyance to the public to be the de- 
manding or expecting of fees and gratuities by attend- 
ants. This system will, therefore, be discontinued. 
Programmes will be furnished and wraps and umbrellas 
taken charge of gratuitously. The attendants will be 
paid fair wages, and any attendant detected in accepting 
money from visitors will be instantly dismissed. I trust 
that the public will co-operate with me to support this 
reform (which already works so well at the Gaiety 
Theatre) by not tempting the attendants by the offer 
of gratuities. The showing-in of visitors and selling pro- 
grammes will, therefore, not be sublet to a contractor, 
who has to pay the manager a high rental, to recoup 
which he is obliged to extract by his employes all he can 
get out of the public ; nor will the refreshment saloons 
be sublet, but they will be under the supervision of a 
salaried manager, and the most careful attention will be 
given to procuring everything of the very best quality. 

" The theatre will be opened under my management 
on Monday next, October ioth, and I have the satis- 
faction to be able to announce that the opening 
piece will be Messrs. W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sulli- 
van's opera ' Patience/ which, produced at the Opera 
Comique on April 23rd, is still running with a success 
beyond any precedent. 

" The piece is mounted afresh with new scenery, 
costumes, and increased chorus. It is being again 
rehearsed under the personal direction of the author 
and composer, and on the opening night the opera will 
be conducted by the composer. 

" I am, ladies and gentlemen, your obedient servant, 

" R. D'Oyly Carte/' 

B&aufokt House, Strand, 
October 6ft, 1881. 


Opening of the Savoy — False prophets — Electric lighting — No 

Strike of incandescents — A Gilbertian riddle—" Patience " trans- 
planted to Savoy — Inexhaustible power of ** The Three " — The or- 
chestra — The bandsmen and Gilbert's satire — Renewed triumph 
of "Patience." 

Ever memorable in the annals of the theatrical world 
will be the opening of the Savoy Theatre on Monday, 
October ioth, 1881. 

Apart from the reflection that this was to be the 
future home of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, the 
various reforms and innovations introduced by D'Oyly 
Carte, notably the installation of electric light, became 
the talk of the town. 

Men of the old school to whom progress spelt de- 
secration shrugged their shoulders at the pioneer/ s new- 
fangled notions. They prophesied all sorts of evils. 
The "incandescent lamps/' they said — not knowing 
what they talked about — " will never do." Not only 
would they cast a ghostly glare upon the stage and 
auditorium, but they would be playing all maimer of 
uncanny tricks to upset the performances. As for the 
quixotic idea of charging nothing for programmes and 
cloak-rooms, and not sub-letting the refreshment 
saloons at a high rental, as was the established custom, 
what could be more suicidal ? How did the manager 




expect to raise revenue ? It was ecc6>trfcity of the mad- 
dest type, and must eventually bring ftbout financial 
ruin. Thus spoke the conservative savants. JBut the 
prophets were put utterly to shame. * -*-/-•- 

The first-night assemblage was prompt to recbgnise 
and acclaim Carte's liberal policy. Never before had 
an auditorium been more densely packed ! never before 
had an audience sat so comfortably in an atmosphere 
free from the foetid heat of gaslight. True, the in- 
candescent lamps were now and then inclined to be 
troublesome, causing a certain amount of momentary 
anxiety. The electric light in its infancy betrayed 
some weakness in its power. But this, perhaps, was 
nothing more than the nervousness common to a first 
appearance in any theatre; moreover, the inherent 
brightness of the fairy lamps was now called upon to 
enhance the lustre of the distinguished personages who 
filled the boxes, stalls, and circles on this brilliant 
occasion. On the whole, then, the d6but of the " In- 
candescents " was a great success. 

Mr. Carte, conscious of the difficulties besetting his 
plucky experiment, issued a notice in advance, saying 
that it had been impossible to complete all the arrange- 
mentsnecessary for the perfect lighting of the auditorium 
and stage by electric power, but that in a few days all 
difficulties would be overcome and the first steps would 
have been taken in a method of lighting which would 
probably become useful ere long, owing to its many 
advantages. Thereafter the incandescent lamps were 
seldom known to fail. Yet I recollect how, on the 
occasion of the first visit to the Savoy of the Prince of 


Wales (afterwards. Edward VII), the lights displayed 
a very republican spirit by going out and leaving our 
royal .guest, not in absolute darkness, but in the ob- 
scurity .'of the gas sun-burner. 

. (xilbert, having inquired into the cause of the break- 
down, was informed by the engineer in charge that it 
was "the bearins' 'ad got 'eated" ; whereupon Gilbert 
propounded a riddle: "Why," he added, "is the 
electric light like one of my old sows ? " " Because 
they both 'eats their own bearins/ " l 

With reference to the other reform above alluded to, 
great was the satisfaction expressed in all parts of the 
house when, in place of the cheap and common play- 
bill for which, hitherto, a charge of sixpence had been 
imposed, an artistic programme beautifully designed 
in colour by Miss Alice Havers was presented to 
every one, "free, gratis, and for nothing"; it was 
amusing to observe the varying expressions of surprise 
and gratification of men who, after following the 
custom of tendering a silver coin in payment, were 
politely informed by the attendant that there was 
" no charge." To some minds this concession had 
the effect of making the half-guinea stall appear cheap. 
The reform of the refreshments was no less welcome ; 
in place of the poisonous concoction of fusil-oil, excel- 
lent whiskey was provided, and pure coffee took the 

1 Whilst recording the first installation of electric lighting in a 
theatre, it is interesting to reflect how the Greeks and our ancestors 
were satisfied with daylight for their dramatic performances. Then 
came a period of tallow candles and oil-floats. These, in the year 
1765, sufficed to illuminate Garrick. In 1817 gas-light was first intro- 
duced at Covent Garden Theatre. 


place of the customary chicory — and all at a reasonable 

It was under such auspices and agreeable circum- 
stances as those I have endeavoured to outline that 
"Patience/' transplanted from the Opera Comique, 
was welcomed to her new abode by a host of fervent 
admirers. Probably every person present on that 
opening night had already witnessed the opera ; but 
now, surrounded by such improved conditions of 
comfort, all had come to renew acquaintance with 
Gilbert and Sullivan's latest work with anticipation 
of increased pleasure. Unprecedented was the 6clat, 
and when Sullivan's form appeared in the conductor's 
rostrum, silhouetted against the rich amber satin 
curtains, the thunders of applause were such as to put 
to severe test the walls and roof of the new building. 
It may be recorded that the house shook for the first 
time, yet held firm to withstand the many equally 
severe, and ever-welcome earthquake shocks that 
were to become familiar at every Savoy premiere. 

The improvements behind the curtain were as 
marked as those found in the front of the house. 

The stage, considerably larger than that of the Opera 
Comique, afforded scope for extending and elabor- 
ating the groups of the " love-sick maidens " and heavy 
dragoons of " Patience." 

Brand-new scenery had been painted with special 
regard to the exigencies of electric lighting. Scenic 
artists alone can appreciate how greatly the new 
system of stage illumination revolutionized the colour- 
tones. The incandescent rays enabled them to produce 


a closer copy of natural daylight than had ever been 
possible with gas-jets. Accordingly the "Patience" 
scenes, notably the lovely Forest Glade, revealed 
qualities far excelling in beauty those in which the 
opera had been mounted at the old house. The 
scenery reflected the highest credit on Mr. Hawes 
Craven, the clever artist, who for many years remained 
associated with the D'Oyly Carte management. 

Thus " Patience " in the full tide of popularity was 
transplanted in a day from the Opera Comique to the 
Savoy, reappearing in all the glory of new costumes 
to enter upon a new lease of life. The only notable 
change in the company was the substitution of Mr. 
Walter Brown for Mr. Richard Temple, who remained 
at the Opera Comique, the sole management of which 
had been taken over by Richard Barker for the pro- 
duction of Fred Clay's opera, " Princess Toto." 

A more brilliant audience than that which attended 
the opening night of the Savoy has seldom been seen 
in any theatre other than Covent Garden Opera-house. 

" Patience " continued its successful course until 
November 22nd, 1882. The opera had enjoyed a run 
of 408 performances, and greatly enriched the coffers 
of the proud Triumvirate. The powers of "The 
Three" showed no signs of exhaustion. Prosperity, 
indeed, seemed to yield fresh inspiration to their united 
genius, which possessed what Coleridge described as 
" the faculty of growth." 

Gilbert's unrivalled humour and Sullivan's precious 
gift of melody flourished beneath the sunshine of public 
approbation, while Carte's master-hand had steered 


the ship with its rich argosy of pleasure and profit on its 
prosperous voyage across calm seas, and the Savoy 
Theatre was now the Mecca of all pilgrims of the play. 

Pausing thus to take stock, as it were, it may not 
be out of place on this page to pay well-deserved praise 
to the orchestra over which it was my privilege to 

Like the stage-company, the instrumentalists, from 
playing so long together, had ripened into a full, rich, 
homogeneous band. Men more closely allied together 
in friendly brotherhood, more loyal to their manager 
and to their conductor, were never found in a theatre. 
One and all took personal interest in the welfare of 
the operas, thus serving to make their musical director's 
burthen of responsibility light and his task at all times 
a pleasant one. The effervescent spirit of Sullivan's 
music had the effect of converting the most staid and 
solemn member of the orchestra into a humorist. 
Bassoon, clown of the orchestra, became, forsooth, a 
first-class comedian, raising, on occasion, a round of 
laughter from the audience. 

Our band, be it said, was always in the picture : even 
so when a leading character in "The Gondoliers" 
described them as " sordid persons, who require to be 
paid in advance." 

This rather rude affront was accepted by the 
orchestra with stoical unconcern. Had it been taken 
seriously, the heir to the throne of Barataria, with his 
own " delicately modulated instrument," might have 
found himself drummed off the stage by the indignant 
musicians below. But we had learnt our Gilbert by 


this time. We knew that, like most satirists and cynics, 
our gifted author sometimes inadvertently allowed 
his wit to outrun discretion, causing him occasionally, 
yet very seldom, to err an inch from the canons of 
good taste. Besides, did not every one know that a 
fiddler, in truth, is no more sordid nor grasping than 
the most hungry histrion who struts the boards from 
Friday to Friday, patiently awaiting the dawn of 
Treasury Day? And so no one was one whit the 

Personally, however, I have always thought the 
ungracious thrust at that harmless, but necessary body 
— the band— one of the least funny of Gilbert's witti- 
cisms; but then, of course, I may be prejudiced. 

It might havebeen imagined that with the withdrawal 
of " Patience " — mock aestheticism having received its 
quietus — the subject was obsolete and done with for 
ever. A satire launched specifically against the craze 
and crank of a period could hardly be expected to 
interest the people of future generations ! Yet what 
have we seen ? Not only a successful revival of the 
opera at the Savoy in 1900, but also to the present 
day " Patience " is found as attractive as it was at the 
time when Bunthorne and Grosverior were recognized 
as prototypes of men and women actually living and 
gracelessly moving in our midst. In fact, Gilbert and 
Sullivan's aesthetic opera continues as popular on tour 
as any of the famous series. I have heard it questioned, 
would "Patience" have lived but for the music? 
That remains a matter of opinion. 


"Iolanthe" — Peers delighted— ALP.'s enthusiastic — Captain Shaw- 
Procession of Peers — Gorgeous spectacle — Sky-borders abolished 
— " Iolanthe " in America — Carte's enterprise — " Iolanthe " and 
the " gods " — Charles Manners as the Sentry — Press notices — 
A unique criticism. 

Continuing in chronological order the progress of 
what we may now term the Savoy Operas, we come to 
"Iolanthe, or The Peer and the Peri," which first 
saw the footlights on Saturday, November 25th, 

People wondered what phase of contemporary life, 
what particular class of the community would nest 
become the victims of Gilbert's humour. The doings 
and undoings, the uses and abuses of the House of 
Lords, were just then a subject of bitter controversy. 
Peers were out of season and unpopular, at least with 
the people. The Parliament Act had not then been 
even drafted, and so " Down with the Lords 1 " was the 
cry of the hour. 

What wonder, then, that our author chose a theme 

for his libretto that might please all parties of the 

State ? The peers should be brought on the stage to 

speak for themselves, make their own apologies, and 

endeavour to persuade their detractors that they were 



not as black as they were painted, that " high rank 
involves no shame/' that — 

" Hearts just as pore and fair 
May beat in Belgrave Square 
As in the lowly air 
Of Seven Dials " ; 

that even a Lord Chancellor is as susceptible to the 
tender passion as the most amorous plebeian of the 
slums, be he " either a little Liberal or else a little 
Conservative/' And what more fascinating or per- 
suasive mouthpieces for his saccharine satire could 
our king of jesters have invented than a bevy of beauti- 
ful Peris ? What elfish tricks would they not play 
upon our hereditary peers ? Far better this than the 
vulgar abuse of mere mortals. In brief, what better 
peg whereon to hang Gilbertian squibs and crackers 
could be conceived ? 

But it was only a Gilbert who could dare tackle so 
ticklish a subject without fear of offence. Need it be 
recorded how our author used his materials with such 
masterly tact and broadness of mind that the most 
sensitive duke, marquis, or earl could never find a 
coronet to fit his own noble head, amongst the brilliant 
assortment displayed on the Savoy stage. Probably 
those members of the Upper House who never came to 
see " Iolanthe " were in a large minority. The 
majority who did come were delighted and surprised 
to find into what a glorious and harmless figure of fun 
a Legislative Lord could be transmogrified by a past- 
master of caricature. 



The first night of "Iolanthe" marked another 
triumph for D'Oyly Carte's management. 

All the familiar features of a Gilbert and Sullivan 
PremUre were in evidence, only more so than ever. 
The house, packed with an enormous audience, com- 
prised a mixed assortment of patricians and plebeians. 
Every shade of politics was represented, but, unlike 
the assemblies in the greater play-house in Westminster, 
here there was no spirit of controversy. Every Act 
was passed without a division. M.P.'s — Unionist and 
Radical, Home Ruler and Socialist — alike hailed the 
appearance of the composer with far greater and more 
spontaneous rapture than any with which they greet. 
the rising of a distinguished Front-bench orator. 
Sullivan's music soothed the angry breasts of poli- 
ticians. And how those senators roared their ribs 
to aching pitch as they listened, whilst the Sentry 
poured forth his views and sentiments regarding the 
modus operandi of the House of Commons, thus : 

" When in that House M.P.'s divide, 
If they've a brain or cerebellum, too, 
They've got to leave that brain outside, 
And vote just as their leaders tell 'em to. 
And then the prospect of a lot 
Of dull M.P.'s in close proximity, 
All thinking for themselves, is what 
No man can face with equanimity." 

Once again a greedy appetite for Gilbert's " words" 
*as proved by the frou-frou swish of book-leaves 
turned over. Every pungent point of satire and 
ridicule was the signal for a volley of laughter. Every 


song was redemanded, everybody who had done any- 
thing to help the play was called before the curtain, 
and, in short, Gilbert and Sullivan had again captured 
the town. 

One incident attending the first night of " Iolanthe," 
remembered by all who were present, is worth recalling 
here. Conspicuous in the centre of the stalls was the 
well-known form of Captain (afterwards Sir Eyre 
Massey) Shaw, the renowned and popular Chief of the 
Fire Brigade. To him the Fairy Queen, with arms 
outstretched across the footlights, appealed in tuneful 
serenade : 

" On fire that glows 
With heat intense 
I turn the hose 
Of common sense, 
And out it goes 
At small expense. 
We must maintain 
Our fairy law ; 
That is the main 
On which to draw — 
In that we gain 
A Captain Shaw I 

" O Captain Shaw, 
Type of true love kept under ! 
Could thy Brigade 
With cold cascade 
Quench my great love ? — I wonder ! " 

Spectacularly " Iolanthe " excelled any of the pre- 
ceding operas. For the first time on any stage 


lamps were adopted as ornaments by the dramatis 
ptrsanae. And so when the classically draped Peris 
tripped on, each irradiated by a fairy-star in her hair, 
and another at the point of her wand, the novel effect 
caused a subdued murmur of wonder and applause to 
spread through the auditorium. Emden's scenery, 
especially that of the second act, depicting Palace Yard 
and the Houses of Parliament, was pronounced a 
masterpiece of scenic art. 

In this connection we may mention the interesting 
fact that, in the second act set of " Iolanthe," sky- 
borders were discarded for the first time on any stage 
either in London or on the Continent. 

For the benefit of the uninitiated, it may be well to 
explain that sky-borders are those flat lengths of 
painted cloth, which, stretched overhead across the 
stage from left to right, form, as it were, the upper 
frame-work of the picture. They are intended to assist 
perspective ; but sometimes the effect is not only to 
narrow the view, but, worse, to destroy the illusion of 
the scene. It certainly does not add to picturesque 
beauty when we observe square yards of canvas once 
coloured cerulean blue to harmonize with the black- 
cloth firmament, but now sere and yellow with age, 
their edges frayed and torn by the rough usage of 
the scene-shifters, flapping ungracefully in the breeze 
that blows perpetually on every stage. They look 
more like giant scarecrows hung on lofty trees than 
P^rts of the scenic artist's design. It will be easy, 
then, to understand how the doing away with sky- 
borders was one of the most notable improvements 


adopted by the Savoy management. To the gallery- 
ites the innovation was specially acceptable, since it 
enabled them to command a full perspective view of 
the Westminster scene, even to the summit of the 
Victoria Tower. 

Seldom had any more brilliant spectacle been wit- 
nessed in a theatre than the Procession of Peers in 
their full canonicals of coronets and robes, absolutely 
correct to the gilt strawberry-leaves of high-born Duke 
or the white satin rosette of belted Earl. 

To the trumpet-bray and sounding brasses of the 
Grenadier Guards Band entered these — 

" Noble peers of highest station, 
Paragons of legislation. 
Pillars of the British nation ! " 

So thunderous was the applause, so emphatic the 
demand for an encore that one wondered whether the 
audience would have sufficient lung-power left where- 
with to welcome the Lord Chancellor following close 
upon the heels of the noble cort&ge. But we were not 
long left in doubt. George Grossmith's appearance 
was hailed with such a volley of cheers as to necessitate 
a rest of many bars before the Lord Chancellor was 
permitted to introduce himself in the quaintly dry 
patter song : 

" The Law is the true embodiment 
Of everything that's excellent." 

Never was an oration from the " woolsack " 

to with such profound attention mingled with dis- 


respectful laughter half-suppressed, as that which 
greeted the Lord Chancellor on this memorable occa- 

Incidentally let me here recall how at the Dress 
Rehearsal, whilst watching the Procession of Peers, 
Gilbert remarked to me : " Some of our American 
friends who will be seeing ' Iolanthe ' in New York to- 
morrow will probably imagine that British lords are 
to be seen walking about our streets garbed in this 
fashion/ 1 Whether or not Gilbert's suggestion was 
extravagant we have no evidence to show. One fact, 
however, may be hinted at — after the production of 
" Iolanthe/' the demand for eligible earls by American 
heiresses certainly seemed to increase. 

An amusing incident occurred during the rehearsals 
of " Iolanthe/' Gilbert took D' Auban aside and whis- 
pered certain instructions to the dancing-master. The 
author then approached Alice Barnett, the Fairy 
Queen — " Now, Miss Barnett," said Gilbert, " if you 
are ready, Mr. D' Auban will teach you a few dance-steps 
which we wish you to introduce in your part." " Oh, 
thank you, Mr. Gilbert," replied the actress. D' Auban 
then, taking the stage, executed some marvellous 
gyrations which none but a past-master of the terp- 
sichorean art could possibly attempt. Miss Barnett 
stared aghast and then exclaimed, " Oh — really — Mr. 
Gilbert — I — I don't think — in fact, I'm sure I could 
never learn that." Readers who may recollect the 
Fairy Queen's #rtra-ordinary form and stature will 
appreciate Gilbert's practical joke, which, needless to 
say, caused a roar of laughter on the stage. 


By the way, it may be worth mentioning that the 
first presentation of " Iolanthe " in America was in- 
tended to synchronize as nearly as possible with that 
in London ; but, owing to difference in longitudinal time, 
the curtain rose in New York some five hours later 
than did ours. Accordingly, through the courtesy 
of the Atlantic Cable authorities, D'Oyly Carte was 
enabled to send a message across the seas describing 
the enthusiastic reception of the opera at the Savoy. 
This message, transcribed, was issued to the American 
play-goers as they were entering the theatre for the 
first performance of " Iolanthe " ; thus their appetite 
for the feast was agreeably whetted. 

Before leaving the subject of " Iolanthe' s " peers, 
it may be remarked how the illustration of the manners 
and customs of the British peerage provided an object- 
lesson to the gallery-boys. One may not gravely 
assert that any increased reverence for blue blood was 
instilled into the minds of the hoi polloi who came to 
the Savoy, not in battalions, but in single columns ; 
yet the expression common to the vulgar herd — " We'r 
are you a'shovin' to, as if you was a bloomin' Lord ? " 
was heard more than once as the crowd elbowed their 
way through the cheap exit doors at the end of the 

The only notable addition to the front ranks of 
Savoyards taking part in " Iolanthe " was Mr. Charles 
Manners, since become distinguished in the musical 
world as a plucky and successful pioneer in the cause 
of English Opera. 

Manners gave an admirable impersonation of the 



stolid Grenadier Guardsman, Private Willis, his fine 
bass voice doing full justice to the famous Sentry's 
Song, whilst his acting emphasized the drollery of the 
character and situation. 

The following is the complete cast of the original 
" Iolanthe " company at the Savoy Theatre : 

The Lord Chancellor 

Eaxl of Mountararat 

Earl of Tolloller 

Private Willis . 


Queen of the Fairies 






Mr. George Grossmith 

Mr. Rutland Barrington 

. Mr. Durward Lely 

Mr. Charles Manners 

Mr. R. Temple 

Miss Alice Barnett 

Miss Jessie Bond 

Miss Fortescue 

. Miss Julia Gwynne 

Miss Sybil Grey 

• Miss Leonora Braham 

Chorus of Dukes, Marquises, Earls, Viscounts, Barons, 

and Fairies 

Musical Director . . . Mr. Francois Cellier 
Act I. — An Arcadian Landscape 
Act II. — Palace Yard, Westminster 
Date. — Between 1700 and 1882 

Turning once again to our press cuttings, we find 
the critics were all but unanimous in profuse praise of 
the new opera. But there was one remarkable excep- 
tion — a very negative report (it could not conscien- 
tiously be called criticism), which, read by the light 
of to-day, is so amusing in its depreciatory remarks 
on " Iolanthe/' so rare as an expert's review, that I 


cannot refrain from republishing it word for word. If 
the writer of this precious damnatory article has been, 
unhappily, spared to the journalistic world till now, 
I trust he will fully appreciate the attention I very 
humbly and gratuitously venture to direct towards 
his far-seeing judgment. 
This is what he wrote : 

" I was present at the fourth representation of 
* I ol an the ' [what a pity he was not invited to the 
first !], and, though it was impossible not to be struck 
with the startling ingenuity of many of the phrases, the 
performance as a whole left me profoundly depressed ! 
melancholy ! miserable ! [oh ! shade of Jacques !] 
The dirge-like music, — sacred harmonics gone wrong 
— dragged and grated even upon my unmusical ear. 
Where is this topsy-turvydom, this musical and 
dramatic turning of ideas wrong side out, to end ? 
Sitting at the play, constantly consulting my watch, 
longing, hoping that the piece might come to an end 
and that I for one [possibly the only one] might be 
released from imprisonment in a narrow stall, I 
amused myself with considering and endeavouring to 
analyse Mr. Gilbert's methods." 

This very captious critic then proceeds to pour 
forth his venom against Gilbert and Sullivan alike. 

"Gilbert," he says, "starts primarily with the 
object of bringing Truth and Love and Friendship 
into contempt, just as we are taught the devil does. 
Mr. Gilbert tries to prove that there is no such thing 
as virtue, but that we are all lying, selfish, vain, and 
unworthy. In the Gilbertian world there are no 
martyrs, no patriots, and no lovers/ 1 


After several paragraphs equally eloquent of a per- 
verted mind, he concludes with the confession that — 

" Rather than take a stall at the Savoy [the question 
arises, was or was not the gentleman on the Press 
List ?] it would pay me better to stand at the corner 
of a street and watch the coarse humours of the same 
class, of a Punch and Judy show — as a moral lesson 
I prefer Punch and Judy to ' Iolanthe.' " 

What are we to say to such " criticism" ? When 
we disclose the fact that it came from the dramatic 
and musical critic of a leading sporting periodical, it 
may strike one that the prophetic scribe might 
better have confined his talents to supplying Turf Tips 
to punters, instead of pronouncing a favourite like 
"Iolanthe" to be a certain non-stayer — seeing that 
our critic was inwardly convinced that the opera would 
never run. 

I wonder whether, if living, he has moderated his 
views of Gilbert and Sullivan, since their works, in* 
eluding " Iolanthe," have survived to be accepted by 
an intelligent public as veritable classics. 


" Princess Ida " — Poet's imagination — Solomon, Shakespeare, and 
Shaw — Tennyson's " Princess "—Gilbert and old-fashioned bur- 
lesques — " The Princess " at Olympic — A Yorkshire critic — An old 
lady's view of " H.M.S. Pinafore " — Costumes and scenery — 
PremiitB of " Princess Ida " — Sir Arthur Sullivan's illness — 
Leonora Braham's success — Henry Bracey — Times' critic on 
" Princess Ida." 

To analyse and define the psychological subtlety of 
a poet's mind is beyond the reasoning power of the 
present writer. An ordinary man's thoughts are 
generally restricted to the consideration of what has 
been or what is. The mists of the future are impene- 
trable to his limited imagination. He marvels how 
it is given to any of his fellow mortals to view the 
" will be " beyond his own narrow span of life. He 
wonders how the poet can compose epic verse, de- 
scriptive of incidents and events of generations to come, 
minutely etching the characteristics of people yet 
unborn. And then, when it all comes true, how mira- 
culous it appears to the view of the platitudinarian ! 

Yet, after all, when we come to reflect how Solomon 
of old declared there was nothing new under the sun — 
even in his early epoch — is there so much cause for 
astonishment that Shakespeare was able, in the six- 
teenth century, to picture the actions and revolutions, 
the fashions and the follies or the wiser idiosyncrasies 



of men — and women too — of this the twentieth cen- 
tury ? The poet was conscious that whatever is has 
been before and will be again. 

" What then ? " you ask. 

Well, then, the question is, if you and I possessed the 
intuition of Solomon, or Shakespeare, might we not be 
denied the privilege we now enjoy of sometimes finding 
something that seems like new — even in the works of 
Mr. G. Bernard Shaw, or the doctrine of the Futurists ? 
Happily, perhaps, for us, our mental visage is not so 

Such is the spasmodic whiff of mock philosophy 
that passes across the surface of one's mind on ap- 
proaching the subject of " Princess Ida," a play whose 
main theme was woman's attitude towards man from 
a topsy-turvy point of view. Our observations may 
appear somewhat involved, but the idea we would 
convey is in brief that, whilst there were no Suffragettes 
in Queen Victoria's reign — or, if there were, they 
were wisely latent, certainly they were not militant — 
yet did not Tennyson seriously, and, after him, Gilbert, 
facetiously propound the doctrine that was eventually 
to resolve itself into the present-day cry, " Votes for 
Women " ? 

Just fourteen years before the Savoy production 
of " Princess Ida " (January 5th, 1884), the Olympic 
Theatre, then under the management of Mr. W. H. 
Liston, witnessed the performance of " The Princess ; 
a whimsical parody (being a respectful perversion of 
Mr. Tennyson's poem), by W. S. Gilbert." This was 
in the days when the rhymed, punning burlesques of 


Planch6, Brough, Byron, Burnand, and other clever 
playwrights, still flourished. It became Gilbert's 
ambition to reform and raise the tone of musical plays, 
to put an end to the ultra-frivolous stuff and non- 
sense, some of which, Gilbert admitted in an address 
to the public, had come from his own unbridled pen. 
He believed the public taste to be ripe for entertain- 
ment of a higher class. And so our author turned to 
Tennyson, and borrowed the characters and theme 
of the laureate's delightful poem. The outcome was 
a clever, playful parody in blank verse, relieved by a 
few light lyrics set to popular tunes from grand operas 
by Donizetti, Verdi, Rossini, and other famous com- 
posers, to whom, by the way, no fees were payable. 

Gilbert's first edition of " The Princess " failed to 
make much impression, chiefly because, as we have 
previously argued, the public had not yet been educated 
up to the Gilbertian standard of humour, which was 
more refined and elegant than any they had been 
accustomed to. 

So the Olympic "Princess" was consigned to the 
lumber-room of plays that have failed, there to rest 
and rust for a dozen years and more, forgotten and 

But Gilbert's faith in the true worth of his adopted 
daughter remained unshaken. "The Princess" had 
been condemned in 1870 ; but condemned by an 
ignorant and misguided jury on the evidence of false 
witnesses. Her illustrious Highness, and the authors 
of her being, had hardly met with poetic justice in the 
measure of her presentation. For instance, her music 



— second-hand grand-operatic music — had not been 
found in harmony with her peculiar court and surround- 
ings. Further, her supporters may not have been 
trained to speak in blank verse to the academical 
standard of Girton or Castle Adamant. But Gilbert 
believed that his fascinating, yet eccentric heroine, if 
brought to new trial before the more enlightened tri- 
bunal of a later generation, might upset the former 
verdict. In this confidence the author was readily 
supported by Sullivan and D'Oyly Carte. Conse- 
quently the despised one of the Olympic Gods was 
reclaimed from obscurity, to be reclothed in costly 
raiments of " academic silks, in hue the lilac with a 
silken hood to each/ 9 

To the 4t Princess Ida " Gilbert gave new songs to 
sing — songs with words not unworthy the author of — 

" Sweet and low, sweet and low. 
Wind of the western sea " — 

and Gilbert's lyrics were set to music as enchanting 
to the ear as any that had been given to the world by 

The result more than justified the venture. Far 
more indeed. " Princess Ida " was welcomed with 
open arms by the Savoyards. The Press pronounced 
the new opera to be a success as complete as any in 
which the brilliant author and gifted composer had 
been associated. The public, rising to the occasion, 
once more metaphorically hoisted the conquering 
Trio, Gilbert, Sullivan, and D'Oyly Carte, shoulder 
high, and carried them triumphant round the town. 


In two notable respects " Princess Ida " marked a 
departure from the author's usual methods. First, 
the opera was in three acts instead of two ; second, it 
was written in blank verse. Of the quality of the 
verse it may be possible to judge by the following true 

A play-goer from Yorkshire, after seeing "Prin- 
cess Ida," was asked what he thought of the piece. 
" Well/' he replied, " I do like t music well enow ; 't be 
bang up to date and full o' tunes I can whistle ; but 
f words sounds too much like Shakespeare for f likes o' 
me to understand." 

This reminds me of another story told concerning 
an old lady in a Midland town, who, after a visit to 
" H.M.S. Pinafore," declared it to be, in her estimation, 
the next best play to " Hamlet " she had ever seen. 
"First," she remarked, "it's so full of sayings I've 
heard before — it seemed like an old friend, you see. 
And it's all so breezy, too ; it brings a sniff of the briny 
ocean right away into this stuffy inland town. And 
then that ship— it's so life-like that I couldn't help 
wondering if any of those sisters and cousins and 
aunts ever felt sea-sick whilst acting on board. But 
what I couldn't understand about ' H.M.S. Pinafore' 
was that third act. How all the ship's crew and the 
young ladies and all come to find themselves in a law- 
court, dancing and singing and flirting with the judge 
— a man, I could have sworn, was the First Lord of the 
Admiralty in Acts I. and II., I never could make out 
that ending to the ' Pinafore.' " 

But the wonder is why no one explained to the dear 


old soul that what she took to be the third act of the 
opera was, in fact, " Trial by Jury," which was played 
as an afterpiece to " H.M.S. Pinafore." 

Our Yorkshire friend's judgment of the music was 
by no means too flattering. In " Princess Ida " Arthur 
Sullivan gave us of his best — songs full of grace, fancy, 
delicious melody, and, as ever, brimming over with 
rich humour ; choral and orchestral passages as novel, 
quaint, and picturesque as any the master's mind had 
ever conceived. 

As regards the material " production," nothing that 
care, liberal expenditure, and consummate taste could 
do was left undone by D'Oyly Carte. The staging of 
" Princess Ida, or Castle Adamant," as the opera was 
entitled, marked the last phase of perfection. The 
costumes were as gorgeous in effect as they were rich 
in texture, exquisite in colour and design. The " girl 
graduates," as they appeared on the Savoy stage, must 
truly have been living realities of Tennyson's ideals. 

The costly silver-gilt armour, specially designed and 
manufactured in Paris by the famed firm of Le Grange 
et Cie. , excelled in brilliancy anything of the sort ever 
seen at Drury Lane. 

The scenic sets, those of Acts I. and III. by Emden, 
that of Act II. by Hawes Craven, were masterpieces of 
those distinguished artists. In short, no previous 
opera by Gilbert and Sullivan had involved such vast 
outlay and been so sumptuously placed upon the stage 
as " Princess Ida." 

But, despite the skill and care of the stage-manage- 
ment, one slight mishap occurred. Through some 


miscalculation of the master-carpenter, the " stage- 
well " into which " Princess Ida " descends from be- 
hind a flowery bank was of insufficient depth ; con- 
sequently the gallery-gods were regaled with a gratui- 
tous view of Miss Leonora Braham floundering on a 
feather mattress spread to receive her. 

The brilliant premUre of " Princess Ida " was, un- 
known to the audience, dimmed by the shadow of a 
very regrettable incident. When Sullivan arrived at 
the theatre I noticed that he was looking haggard and 
depressed. I inquired the reason. " Oh, nothing 
particular/ 9 he replied; "I've had rather bad news — 
but I'll tell you all about it later." It was not until 
the end of the opera, when Sir Arthur had taken his call 
before the curtain, that he told me how, on his way to 
the theatre, on opening an evening paper, he had read 

that the Bank, in which the bulk of his money 

was deposited, had stopped payment. His loss was 
very heavy, and that he was able to conduct the opera 
that night was evidence of his indomitable pluck and 

In those minds which judge a stage-work on the main 
standpoint of artistic merit, without reference to the 
degree of popularity it may achieve, " Princess Ida" 
strengthened faith in the ability of our author and 
composer to produce together a work of more serious 
import, one that should come under the category of 
Grand Opera. It was a consummation devoutly to 
be wished by all who professed an interest in British 
music ; whether such hope was to be realized or dis- 
appointed remained then in the lap of the gods. 



The following is the original cast of characters who, 
at the Savoy Theatre on Saturday, January 5th, 1884, 
presented — 


King Hildebrand . . Mr. Rutland Barrington 

Hilarion (His Son) .... Mr. H. Bracey 

Cyril \ /E7 ., . , p . , x . Mr. Durward Lely 
_r . } (Htlarton's Friends) w n „ 

Flonan J x ' Mr. Chas. Ryley 

King Gama . . . Mr. George Grossmith 

Arac 1 Mr. Richard Temple 

Guron J- (His Sons) . . Mr. Warwick Gray 

Scynthius J Mr. Lugg 

Princess Ida . Miss Leonora Braham 

(Gama's Daughter) 
Lady Blanche .... Miss Brandram 

(Professor of Abstract Science) 
Lady Psyche . . . Miss Kate Chard 

(Professor of Humanities) 
Melissa Miss Jessie Bond 

(Lady Blanche's Daughter) 
Sacharissa .... Miss Sybil Grey 

Chloe Miss Heathcote 

Ada Miss Lilian Carr 

(Girl Graduates) 

Soldiers, Courtiers, " Girl Graduates," " Daughters of the 

Plough," etc. 

It is not for me to offer any critical remarks about 
the performance. To express personal opinion on 
any individual actor or actress would appear im- 
pertinent. Yet I cannot refrain from placing on 
record the excellent impression made by Miss Leonora 
Braham in the title-role. Miss Braham' s rendering of 
the by no means easy songs, and her admirable delivery 


of the famous speech addressing the ''Women of 
Adamant, fair Neophytes" — I number among my 
pleasant reminiscences. Mr. Henry Bracey, whose 
impersonation of Prince Hilarion will be favourably 
remembered by Savoy patrons, has, for many years 
past, held the post of Business Manager to the late 
Mr. J. C. Williamson, the well-known Antipodean 
impresario, who, until his death a year ago, leased the 
Australasian "rights" in the Gilbert and Sullivan 

To conclude these notes and reflections on " Princess 
Ida," I cannot do better than quote a few remarks 
from an able critical review which appeared in The 
Times after the fiist performance of the opersy ; 

" Whatever may be thought of the abstract value 
of Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan's work, it has the great 
merit of putting every one in a good temper. It was 
pleasant to watch the audience on Saturday. The 
occupants of stalls and boxes, including many musicians 
and literary men of note, the dress circle, and even the 
unruly ' gods ' in the gallery, were equally delighted, 
and expressed their delight after the manner of their 
kind. To a poet and a musician who can achieve this 
by morally harmless and artistically legitimate means 
it would be unjust to judge the burst of applause which 
at the end of the piece brought Mr. Gilbert and Sir 
Arthur Sullivan and Mr. D'Oyly Carte, the energetic 
manager of the Savoy Theatre, before the curtain. To 
play the stern critic in such circumstances, one would 
require the temper of the philanthropic King Gama 
of the play." 


Theatrical first nights — Professional play-goers — Prtmiir* Savoyards 
— Establishment of the "queue " — Refining influence of " Gilbert 
and Sullivan" — Taming of the Hooligan — Gallery and pit con- 
certs — First nights behind the curtain — Gilbert recalls first night 
at the Olympic. 

Like unto the stars, first nights at a West-end 
London theatre differ, one from another, in glory. 
Yet, in general aspect and incident there is, as a rule, 
no marked distinction between them. 

If the play to be produced is by a popular author, 
with popular artists to support it, a spirit of confidence 
pervades the house. The audience awaits curtain- 
rise with the calm solemnity of a special jury, yet happy 
in the anticipation of a " feast of reason and a flow of 
soul/' They hope for the best. If, on the other 
hand, a new dramatist is to be introduced to them, a 
certain degree of apathy and indifference subdues the 
excitement of the occasion. People speculate whether 
or not they will " spot a winner." Past experience 
guides them to lay odds against the desired issue. 

Theatrical " first-nighters " are professional play- 
goers ; each individual is a living encyclopaedia of the 
drama. Every one of them has been a student of the 
stage since his or her first visit to a theatre, and now, 
gathered together, they constitute a body of amateur 



experts, unpaid critics responsible to no editor nor 
censor for the opinions they form of their own free and 
unfettered judgment. And these, unquestionably, are 
the surest prophets, the most reliable arbiters of the 
fate of all plays. Every u first-nighter " knows every 
other one, though the great crowd of witnesses may be 
ever so cosmopolitan. And so, when, after patiently 
awaiting admission for many a weary hour, they at 
length gain their seats, they pass the interval pending 
the performance in their orthodox manner— the men 
of sober mien peruse the latest edition of the evening 
paper ; the women turn over the leaves of a novelette, 
or, more industriously, ply the knitting-needle ; whilst 
more restless, youthful idlers engage in verbal platoon 
firing with blank cartridge of chaff and repartee. 
Anon the galleryites watch the dilatory, dawdling entry 
of the " upper classes " to the stalls and boxes. Every- 
body who is anybody is known to them. Recognizing 
in turn each distinguished personage, statesman or 
diplomat, hero or poet, millionaire or stock-broker, 
peer or pet actress, they welcome each respectively 
in such a manner as betrays their sentiments of esteem 
or otherwise. Such is a brief outline sketch of an 
ordinary London premibre ; but a Savoy " first- 
night," it may be said, used, in the old days, to be a 
thing of itself. The occasion was marked by features 
distinct from any obtaining elsewhere. 

Our faithful patrons and camp-followers formed a 
corps, more or less independent of the general army 
of play-goers. They might be described as Territorials. 
They liked to call themselves "Savoyards/' These 


never came prepared to scoff ; they were too well 
assured that they would remain to praise the fare which 
their generous host, Mr. D'Oyly Carte, had caused to 
be provided for their delectation by those renowned 
Escofiiers of the lyric kitchen — Gilbert and Sullivan. 

Here may fittingly be recalled another notable experi- 
ment tried by D'Oyly Carte in the early days of his 
Savoy regime. This was the institution of the Queue 
System for the benefit of play-goers awaiting admis- 
sion to the unreserved parts of the theatre. Once 
again Carte's judgment was called into question by the 
wise-heads who were over-faithful to past traditions. 
"The public/ ' they vowed, "will never stand being 
marshalled and driven like a flock of sheep into their 
pens." Wrong again were those unreasoning prophets. 

The crowd of pittites and gallery-gods assembled in 
the early hours of the eventful day, and, extending down 
the steep of Beaufort Buildings to the theatre doors, 
readily accepted the new regulation, fell into the ranks 
of the queue, and realized its advantages. Instead of 
the old order of " might versus right," with its rough 
and rude push and crush, the new rule was " first come 
first served.' ' The experiment proved so successful 
that the system was forthwith adopted by every 
theatrical manager. Humble patrons of the Savoy 
will ever gratefully remember how, through the kind 
consideration of Mrs. D'Oyly Carte, on the occasion of 
first-nights, the weary crowd was refreshed by the 
management with tea and cake, before the perform- 
ance began. It was a gracious act that did much to 
add to the growing popularity of the Carte manage- 



ment and to increase the number of avowed Savoy 
champions and apostles. 

There was no " rag, tag, and bobtail " attached to a 
Savoy crowd. If, perchance, there were present any 
claqueurs of the rowdy class they were never in evi- 
dence. The refining influence of Gilbert's wit and 
Sullivan's convincing music sufficed to tame the wildest 
Hooligan from Shoreditch and the East, and to compel 
every man and woman entering the sanctum of the 
Savoy to put on company manners. 

The people, packed in close order in the gallery, re- 
sembled a huge, well-dressed concert choir, not only in 
the formation of their ranks, tier above tier, but in 
the manner of their behaviour. As soon as they had 
settled in their places, instead of reading books and 
newspapers, our accomplished " gods " delighted the 
house with a gratuitous recital of every favourite chorus 
or part-song from the Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire. 
A self-appointed conductor stationed in the centre of 
the front row was readily accepted, and, responsive to 
his beat, the amateur choir rendered in excellent tone 
and tempo not only the breezy and easy times of 
" Pinafore/ 1 but also such choice and delicate morceaux 
as " Hail, Poetry ! " the unaccompanied chorus from 
"The Pirates of Penzance," and the more exacting 
sestette, " I hear the soft voice," from " Patience." 

The improvised prefatory concerts — which, by the 
way, I am just reminded, were not confined to the 
gallery, but were contributed to, in turn, by the Pit 
choir, became such an important item of a Savoy 
premi&re that they had the effect of attracting the early 


attendance of the 61ite in the stalls and circles. Doubt- 
less, the vocal ability of these fremibre choristers was 
attributable to the fact that they comprised a large 
number of members of suburban amateur societies to 
whom the Savoy times were as familiar as the National 
Anthem, " Rule Britannia/' or "Hymns, Ancient and 

So interesting and attractive was the performance 
taking place "in front " that our author and com- 
poser, with some of the principals, forgetting for a 
moment the responsible parts they were themselves 
about to play, listened from behind the curtain and 
joined in the applause that followed each chorus. 

Reference to this incident reawakens reminiscences 
of the attitude of every one, the disposition of every- 
thing pertaining to the stage and the orchestra on these 
eventful occasions. 

Whilst in front of the house under the able control, 
courtesy, and tact of our Acting-manager, Mr. George 
Edwardes, all went with the smoothness and decorum 
of a private " At Home," behind the curtain every- 
thing was marked by the quiet discipline of a regi- 
mental camp or the deck of a battle-ship. Every man 
was ready at his post, every rope was coiled, every 
scene-baton was adjusted, every incandescent lamp 
tested — all was taut and trim arid ship-shape. Of all 
"the hands" behind the scenes the call-boy alone 
betrayed nervou9 anxiety — " Shrimp/ ' as he was 
familiarly called, was ubiquitous, literally "all over 
the shop." Like all his colleagues, "Shrimp" was 
impressed with the importance of the occasion. He 


appeared to entertain the idea that every lorgnette 
in the wide world was now being focussed on the Savoy 
stage, and so he, for one, was resolved to do his level 
best to make the show a success. How far his efforts 
succeeded he himself, looking back across the years, 
can contemplate with supreme satisfaction. 

Turning now to more important factors in the scene, 
to wit, our manager, author, and composer, I trust 
that the idle gossip I dare to convey touching their 
demeanour on first nights may not disturb their 
now resting and no longer anxious souls. When I 
recall their restlessness and half-veiled anxiety on 
these momentous nights I cannot forbear to smile. 

First, I seem to see again D'Oyly Carte with all 
the calm concern and forethought of a wise Commander- 
in-Chief long before the doors are opened, beginning 
his rounds of the theatre ; I watch him peeping into 
every corner and crevice of the house as though he 
should discover some lurking evil that might jeopardize 
his venture. Inwardly satisfied that everything neces- 
sary to success has been done, and well done, our chief 
bestows placid smiles upon every faithful servant or 
attach^ whom he meets. Now and again he pops his 
head in at the door of my room — " Everything all 
right, Francois ? " Without awaiting my assurance 
that all is well in my department, he is off again to 
pursue another tour of inspection. : 

Meanwhile Arthur Sullivan arrives ; I had left him 
half an hour ago after a quiet dinner together. But 
now he enters muffled against the night air. " Good 
evening, Francis ; bitter cold outside." I help him 


off with his overcoat. He hangs it on a peg, warms his 
hands at my stove, before enticing them into a pair of 
white kids ; he lights a cigarette, adjusts his monocle, 
and peeps into the special Evening Standard; the 
next moment he asks me to give him a lift on with his 
overcoat. This done, he lights another cigarette and 
remarks, "Just going for a stroll round — shan't be 
long." He mounts the stairs to the stage-door, 
where he exchanges a cheery word with Manton, our 
worthy Cerberus. Two minutes later he reappears 
in my room and goes through the same process of dis- 
robing, etc. This accomplished, he asks me to accom- 
pany him to the band-room. Here he cracks humorous 
jokes which vastly amuse the gentlemen of the orchestra 
—placing them at perfect ease. 

Thus the maestro was wont to kill the half-hour 
preceding his appearance in the conductor's chair. 

Gilbert's nervous devices for concealing nervousness 
were very similar to those of his colleagues. 

With nonchalant air, our author paces the stage. 
With his hands deep in his pockets, he inspects the 
set scene, occasionally passing a joke to the master- 
carpenter. Proceeding thence to the corridors, he 
knocks at the door of the prima donna's dressing-room 
and asks, " All right, my dear ? " The lady, in reply, 
shouts excitedly, " Oh — is that you, Mr. Gilbert ? — I 
wanted to ask you if you would mind if I " 

" My dear girl — do just whatever you like — / don't 
mind — the rehearsals are all over, and I am now at your 

Gilbert then passes along to have a word or two with 


Grossmith and Barrington. After this he disappears 
through the stage-door to enjoy a quiet stroll on the 
Victoria Embankment. 

This relation brings to mind a story Gilbert used to 
tell against himself concerning his experience on the 
first night of " Gretchen," one of his early plays pro- 
duced at the Olympic in 1879. 

Suffering from an acute attack of nervous debility, 
as he termed it, the author felt it impossible to remain 
within the theatre. Accordingly, he spent the evening 
patrolling up and down the Strand, wandering through 
Covent Garden and Drury Lane. He continued his 
peregrinations until he thought it was about time to 
return to the Olympic to take his call before the curtain. 
Arriving at the theatre, he discovered the last frag- 
ments of the audience dispersing from the doors. 
Whereupon he addressed an outside official to whom 
he was unknown. " Is the play over ? " he timidly 
inquired. " Over ! " exclaimed the man, " I should 
rather say it was over — over and done for. Never see'd 
such a frost in all my bom days." 

Gilbert thanked his lucky stars that he had absented 
himself from such a d^bicle — our author, be it observed, 
was not accustomed to frosts. 


Away from the Savoy — Gilbert and Sullivan's leisure hours — Disquisi- 
tion, on their aims and achievements — Town sparrows and eagles — 
Gilbert and Sullivan's loftiest productions — Sullivan's devotion to 
home and the country — A " disciple of the beautiful " — Sullivan's 
highest inspirations — Another type of English composer — A Chapel- 
Royal story — Sullivan's music, sacred and secular — Plagiarism — 
Sullivan's candour — Comic song as church " Voluntary " — Sulli- 
van and his critics. 

We have now arrived at October 1884, just nine 
years after the production, at the Gaiety Theatre, 
of " Thespis," the first joint work of Gilbert and 

Hexe the reader, having " sat out " a rough recital 
of seven operas under my very erratic literary con* 
duct, may be glad to indulge in a few bars 9 rest. 

Let us then quit for a short while the Savoy Theatre, 
where a revival of " The Sorcerer " is in rehearsal to 
succeed " Princess Ida." Those who have followed the 
many triumphs of our famous Savoyards may be in- 
quisitive to learn something, be it ever so little, con- 
cerning their private lives, and the manner in which our 
author and composer filled in the gaps of leisure during 
the lengthy runs of their operas. 

Neither Gilbert nor Sullivan was ever an idler. 
Each, according to his own individual taste or hobby, 
was able to enjoy to his heart's content the pleasures 



of life which are the fruits of successful effort. But 
they never grew weary of work. Ambition was not 
satiated by the luxury of attainment. Gilbert and 
Sullivan had other fields to conquer beyond the walls 
of the Savoy. And so, whilst the people were nightly 
crowding to the theatre in holiday mood to revel in the 
feast of mirth and melody, the men who had provided 
the repast were busy with brain and pen preparing, 
it might be, yet more substantial if not more tempting 

There seems to be much nonsense talked about 
what Gilbert and Sullivan might have done with the 
talents they possessed. One might just as wisely 
question why man, having learnt to fly, is content to 
remain a citizen of the earth, when, if he liked, he could 
soar away beyond the clouds to dwell in the higher and 
brighter realms that are supposed to be located there. 
There are people — some cynics, some malcontents, and 
some noodles ; all professing more or less admiration 
of their gifted compatriots — people who never cease 
lamenting that neither Gilbert nor Sullivan aimed high 
enough ; that they were satisfied to continue potting 
at low-flying follies, mere town-sparrows, whilst, with 
their skill, they might have brought to earth the Golden 
Eagles of Parnassus to be stuffed and placed in the 
British Museum. 

These quidnuncs argue among themselves the causes 
why our two great artists never soared to loftier 
planes of art. "Was it shallowness of soul or con- 
gested ambition ? " they ask. " Or was their motive- 
power too purely mercenary and sordid ? " 


Such inquisitors might be reminded that Sheridan, 
and, perhaps, even Shakespeare, were guilty of writing 
"pot-boilers'' sometimes, and that Beethoven did 
not continue composing Symphonies until he found a 
demand for them. The great maestro was not above 
composing a valse or a polka at a very low figure when 
occasion offered. 

If such a cause has to be tried in public, the present 
writer, although he holds no brief for the defence, 
firmly believes that wise counsel's opinion would .find 
that, if any persons suffered through the default of 
Gilbert and Sullivan, they were the indicted parties 

And what a multitude of witnesses might be called 
to testify that no two Englishmen, ever before or since, 
worked so hard and helped so much to make merry the 
lives of their fellow countrymen and women as the 
author and composer of the Savoy Operas ! 

But, after all has been said or suggested, did not both 
Gilbert and Sullivan, each in his way, sometimes aim 
higher than simply to hit the bull's-eye of popular 

Gilbert may not have been another Sheridan ; Sulli- 
van may have failed to reach the empyrean heights 
gained by Beethoven. True ! yet will not their names 
be handed down to posterity, to be cherished and 
honoured from generation to generation by all the 
English-speaking race ? 

Of course, we should all have been proud if Sir William 
had bequeathed us a dramatic work to be placed in 
the category of "The School for Scandal." Still, 


although he scarcely succeeded in serious play-writing 
of classic degree, Gilbert gave us " Sweethearts/ 9 and 
" Pygmalion and Galatea/ 9 "Tragedy and Comedy/* 
and, may we not add, " The Yeomen of the Guard' ' ? 
— for these alone we should be grateful. 

Equally, of course, we, as a nation, would have been 
prouder than ever had Sir Arthur, with some stupendous 
magnum opus of musical art, succeeded in eclipsing 
Beethoven's " Choral Symphony" ; but most of us are 
perfectly content to have been given " The Tempest " 
music, the " In Memoriam " overture, and " The 
Golden Legend/' to say nothing of the thousand- and- 
one lesser gems that have enriched our music libraries. 

Here our thoughts must be allowed to digress from 
the main route of these reminiscences to dedicate a 
page or two specially to my old friend Arthur Sullivan, 
not only in the character of composer, but also in that 
of charming companion. 

My earliest association, of a professional character, 
with Sullivan was in the year 1867, when he was 
organist of St. Peter's Church, Cranley Gardens, the 
vicar being the Rev. Francis Byng (now the Earl of 
Strafford), Chaplain to the Speaker. For a brief 
period I acted as Sullivan's deputy. It was arranged 
that I should receive a telegram on Saturday evening 
whenever he required my services on the following day. 
The consequence was that a telegram reached me punc- 
tually on every Saturday eve, until eventually I took 
it as a matter of course that I was wanted at the 
church, and so never failed to attend. Sullivan would 
pop in occasionally for part of the morning service, 


and then beat a retreat through the vestry door. 
The choir were always on the qui vive for the appearance 
in the organ-loft of their young curly-headed " chief," 
who at all times made his presence felt in their midst. 
I was often reminded of this incident in after-years 
at the Savoy. The effect produced on the stage com- 
pany when, during the performance of an opera, the 
composer's form suddenly appeared at the wings, was 
similar to that felt by St. Peter's Choir of old. The 
whisper passed through the ranks of the chorus, 
" Look out : the Boss is here." Sir Arthur's shining 
monocle certainly possessed the magic power of trans- 
forming apathy into enthusiasm. 

My deputizing at St. Peter's Church came to an 
abrupt termination. A telegram from Sullivan asking 
me to play at a wedding having miscarried, I was nan 
est inventus at the ' appointed time. Whereupon the 
reverend Vicar simply remarked, " Exit Mr. Franfois 

It was not until twelve years later that I touched 
an organ again, so that it was not without some 
trepidation that I accepted the post of organist at a 
Surbiton Church. Meeting Sullivan shortly after my 
first Sunday on duty, I was asked, " Well, how did 
you get on ? " I told him that the morning per- 
formance had been a not very smooth rehearsal, but 
that I was all right at night. 

Sullivan then related how he had once had a similar 
experience. After having given the organ a long rest, 
he was asked to play at a nobleman's private chapel 
in the country, " And how did you get on ? " I ion 


quired. Sullivan replied, "The psalms completely 
flummox'd me. I had not the presence of mind to 
change the stops all through — it was a double chant 
with strange ' pointing ' — I was so overcome with 
nervousness that my fingers became glued to the 
key-board — I could not remove them. The result was 
that the choir went running about the city, whilst I sat 
grinning like a dog, after the fashion of David and his 
enemies as recorded in Psalm lix." 

Such are some of my earlier reminiscences dated back 
several years before I was appointed Musical Director 
of the Opera Comique. 

Sir Arthur Sullivan, as is well known, remained to 
the end of his days a bachelor. His domestic joys and 
cares were centred on his aged mother, to whom he 
was deeply devoted. For a few years after the death 
of her husband, Mrs. Sullivan shared with her widowed 
daughter-in-law (Mrs. Fred Sullivan) and her children 
a quaint old Georgian mansion named Northumberland 
House, in Fulham. Here Arthur delighted to spend 
his Sundays as often as he could escape from his 
relentless pursuers. The quiet hours passed in that 
old-world homestead, free from the turmoil of the 
theatre and concert-hall, away from the pomp and 
circumstance and the irksome idolatry of Society, were 
to Sullivan the happiest of his life. 

Arthur Sullivan has been described by one of his 
biographers as " a disciple of the beautiful/' No 
worthier monograph could be applied ! Loyal and 
tried citizen of London as he was, in the country he 
sought and found his loftiest inspiration. Accordingly 


much of the spring and summer time was spent at 
his delightful riverside home at Walton-on-Thames. 
From the whispering trees, the sighing evening zephyrs 
and the song-birds ; from the ripple of the stream, the 
plash of oars in the water, and the merry laughter of 
holiday-makers, he gathered fresh stores of melody, 
and, weaving them into Nature's wondrous concord of 
sweet sounds, created, it might be, a majestic chorus 
or graceful dance, a plaintive ballad, or dreamy 

" As effortless as woodland nooks 
Send violets up and paint them blue/' 

so did Sullivan's genius send forth flowers of melody 
fragrant and everlasting. 

I have known other species of composers, musicians 
varying in degree of what is sometimes mis-called 
genius ; mortals who are prone to boast that they 
seek inspiration in day-dreams (judging from their 
produce it might be imagined that they had been 
inspired rather by night-mares). 

" In order to compose divinely*' say these aesthetic 
dreamers, "it is necessary to lose one's material self 
in a trance/' Read what my friend Bridgeman has 
to say on this subject. 

" I remember once meeting a specimen of those 
spirit-compelled musical Futurists in a secluded spot 
on the north coast of Devon. In the twilight of a 
lovely summer's evening I observed a form standing 
erect on a cliff overhanging the Bristol Channel. At 
first I took it to be a sign-post, for an arm was pointing 


horizontally across the purple main. On approaching 
nearer I discovered it to be nothing more nor less than 
a man — a poet-musician, one whom I ha,d casually 
met in the musical circles of London, and whose 
acquaintance I might now claim. 

" Addressing him by name, I extended my hand in 
greeting. For a moment he did not stir : he was under 
a spell. At length, with a sigh, in a voice which 
groaned with emotion, he appealed to me thus: 
' Friend, pray do not disturb me — I am composing-— 
I am in the throes of a sea-symphony.' Of course I 
was too polite to continue the conversation, but I 
felt very tempted to inquire whether it was a Symphony 
in C or an ode to the mud of the Bristol Channel that 
was so monopolizing his mental faculties." 

The poor fellow, I understand, long since passed 
beyond the veil without bequeathing to the world that 
work which he dreamed would be immortal, or leaving 
behind him even his name and address in Who's Who. 

Nevertheless he was, so I've been told, a man of 
more than common musical ability, which, rightly 
directed, might have brought him to the front. Un- 
fortunately, he had fallen a victim to the mock aesthetic 
craze of the " Patience " period ! 

Arthur Sullivan was a composer of a very different 
type. It was my privilege to be his frequent com- 
panion during his composing moods, but if I wanted 
to speak to him I was never afraid of frightening 
away the spirit of inspiration. Undoubtedly he, 
being of poetic temperament, found a dim religious 
light helpful to the composition of a sacred cantata ; 
a quiet woodland nook might attune his lyre to a 


love-song, or an infant's cradle might evoke a lullaby ; 
bat Arthur never, so far as I know, found it necessary 
to seek the seclusion of the cloisters or the woods or 
the nursery for the purpose he had in hand. 

Sullivan was a reincarnated Orpheus. Music was 
to him the breath of life, not the painful spasm of 
congested lungs. His disposition was so perpetually 
brimming over with sympathetic humour that he 
would take delight in discovering subjects for facetious 
music in most unmusical sounds ; such, for instance, 
as the monotonous notes of the cuckoo, the bray of 
a donkey, the cry of an "old clo' " man, or the puff 
and pulsation of a heavy railway train rumbling its 
way up a steep incline. He preferred to laugh and 
learn lessons from a broken-keyed hurdy-gurdy, rather 
than rain anathemas on the poor Italian organ-grinder. 

Sullivan's soul was so imbued with the joy of living 
that it might well be wondered how he could ever 
divert his thoughts to the musical setting of sacred 
subjects. In this respect, without question, he owed 
much to the associations of his boyhood. 

At the Chapel Royal his mind was, to use a vulgar 
phrase, " fed up " with hymns and chants, anthems 
and ancient madrigals, which, morning, noon, and 
night, constituted the chief mental food of "the 
children" of St. James's. Reference to the Chapel 
Royal reminds me, by the way, of a joke attributable 
to Sullivan. It is a story which one might well blush 
to relate ; but, being of that kind, it is all the more 
likely to amuse. 

During the Litany one of " the children " standing 


next to Arthur in the choir substituted for the proper 
words of the Prayer-book the following very irre- 
verent impromptu : " That little girl coming up the 
aisle makes-my-mouth-water." To which Arthur re- 
sponded : " Hold your tongue or you'll be hung, that 
is the Bish-op's-daughter." 

It is very wrong, we know, to tell tales out of school, 
yet we all do it on occasion. The Rev. Thomas 
Helmore, our much-respected pastor and master, has 
passed away far out of hearing, and so nobody who 
might be concerned in this exposure of past peccadilloes 
will suffer for our gossip. 

Cavillers are inclined to aver that Sullivan's sacred 
music was, at times, too secular ; whilst, vice versd, his 
opera-tunes were occasionally too sacred in character. 
Alas, in this connection, we cannot forget that represen- 
tative of a sporting journal to whom we have directed 
attention in an earlier chapter, that remarkable critic 
who described the music of Iolanthe as " sacred har- 
monics gone wrong." Well, one cannot hold oneself 
responsible for another man's aural instincts. 

Again : honest and devout lovers of music with a 
keen ear for time, but without any atom of technical 
knowledge of the musical art, oftentimes remark, 
" Oh — I've heard that somewhere before I " " Very 
likely, sir, you may have, but is it not equally possible 
that you have heard it from the voice of Nature from 
whence the notes were borrowed ? " 

Let it not be supposed that friendship and intense 
admiration blind us to any imperfections perceived by 
others less prejudiced in the work of our composer. 


Sullivan was not above suspicion of having stolen a bar 
or two, here and there, from another musician. He 
himself was ever the first to plead guilty to such soft 
impeachment- But, it may be asked, is it a more 
unpardonable offence to paraphrase a musical theme 
than to parody a proverb ? Surely the composer of 
" Princess Ida," when he played an occasional joke 
at the expense of Handel, was guilty of no greater 
fraud than the author who " respectfully " perverted 
Tennyson. On one occasion, when accused of having 
plagiarized Molloy's " Love's sweet Song " in his 
"When a Maiden marries " in "The Gondoliers," 
Sullivan replied : " My good friend, as a matter of fact, 
I don't happen ever to have heard the song you mention, 
but if I had you must please remember that Mo Hoy 
and I had only seven notes to work on between us" A 
propos this subject, let me call on Cunningham Bridge- 
man to give an instance of Arthur Sullivan's aptness 
to appropriate a musical subject that had appealed 
to his ear, and of his readiness to confess to having 
done so. 

" Being a very old friend of Sullivan's, I was 
privileged to lunch with him on Sundays. This was 
more particularly during a period when his mother 
was ' keeping house ' for him in Victoria Street, West- 
minster. On one occasion, faithful to my one par- 
ticular virtue, arriving at the flat in punctual time, I 
was, as usual, heartily welcomed by Mrs. Sullivan, 
who made haste to inform me that Arthur might be a 
little late in returning from a call he had to pay, but 
that he had left word that I was to be sure to stay 



and lunch. My kind hostess, always bubbling over 
with loving pride of her gifted son, once again, pour 
passer le temps, invited me to inspect the collection of 
valued treasures, comprising presentation gifts in 
gold, souvenirs in silver, and other such choice and 
interesting knick-knacks as are generally to be found in 
the home of a celebrity. Lying in its open case upon 
the grand piano was a violin. I was about to handle 
it when the dear old lady exclaimed, in accents of 
alarm, ' Oh please, please don't touch that ! You will 
never guess who that violin belongs to ! ' Of course, 
although I could not fail to notice a ducal coronet and 
monogram on the case, I would not, for all the world, 
venture to guess the owner's name. In a confidential 
whisper Mrs. Sullivan informed me that it was the 
Duke of Edinburgh's fiddle ; that His Royal Highness 
had been having a run through some duets with ' dear 
Arthur ' last evening, and would probably be round 
again to-night. 

" It was a delightful object-lesson in maternal pride 
to watch the countenance of Arthur Sullivan's fond 
mother as she let me into this profound state secret. 

" But to come to the main point and purport of my 
story. The moment Sullivan arrived and saw that I 
was present, without waiting even to remove his over- 
coat, he went straight to the piano, saying, ' What d'you 
think of this for a time, Bridgeman ? ' To my amaze- 
ment I recognized the refrain of a very unacademical 
ditty called f Impecuniosity ' which, a year or two ago, 
I had perpetrated and disposed of to the great lion 
comique, G. H. Macdermott, who sang it as a duet 
with Herbert Campbell in the Drury Lane Pantomime, 
scoring, so I was assured, a big success. ' Where on 
earth did you pick up that? 1 I asked Sullivan. 
* Well, the fact is, I've just come from the organ-loft 
of a church in Forest Hill where an old friend and 


pupil of mine does duty. By way of a ''Voluntary/* 
the organist played this. Never having heard it 
before, and the theme appealing tome, I asked my friend 
what it was and he told me it was a comic song by a man 
called Bridgeman — I wondered if you could be the 
culprit, and now — you stand confessed. Well, old 
friend, don't be surprised or angry if you hear something 
very like it in my next opera' 

44 On the first night of the next opera, which was 
'The Mikado/ I eagerly listened to each succeeding 
musical number, hoping to catch the refrain of my 
song — inwardly resolved that, should it occur, I should 
insist upon my name appearing as joint composer of 
'The Mikado/ Alas, for my vaulting ambition — 
disappointment was my reward ; the subject of ' Im- 
pecuniosity * was omitted, or, anyway, it was so dis- 
guised in orchestration that I failed to identify my 
progeny. Such an opportunity of achieving fame 
never occurred to me again/ 1 

The above is Cunningham Bridgeman 9 s reminiscence 
— not mine— still, whilst we are impertinently debating 
as to the originality of our composer, the anecdote 
quoted may serve as an illustration of Sullivan's 
unblushing candour. Yet Arthur Sullivan, Math all 
his unconcern regarding minor responsibilities, was by 
no means insensible to the dictum of honest criticism. 
No man whose bread and butter is dependent upon 
public suffrage was ever more anxious to learn the 
judgment and verdict of the press. It was amusing 
to witness his impatience to read the notices which 
appeared in the papers the morning following the 
production of a new work. Praise was, naturally, 


pleasant and grateful to him; but, if ever he had 
just cause to complain of harsh or unjust critical 
remarks, he simply smiled serenely and treated the 
matter with apparent indifference, accepting the 
" slings and arrows of outrageous " scribes as placidly 
as Gulliver endured the teasings of the Lilliputians. 


Arthur Sullivan in private life— Alone with the compose!? — His 
leading characteristics — Society's idol — Sullivan's visit to the 
Riviera — His entourage— Work and recreation in the sunny 
South — Sullivan's pets — Parrot stories — Arthur Sullivan knighted. 

There is no memory I cherish more dearly than that 
associated with the days spent alone with Arthur 
Sullivan away from the turmoil of the town and the 
petty cares and vexations of the theatre. To all who 
knew him as intimately as I did, the place left vacant 
by his death is one that can never be filled. Sir Arthur 
was truly one of Nature's proudest handiworks. 
Success and the flattery of the world left unsullied his 
natural disposition, the key-note of which was modesty 
—modesty of that pure kind that strengthens and beau- 
tifies true merit. If one was ever found ready to pick 
a quarrel with him, with one soft word spoken in season 
he turned away all thought of anger. 

" Through every pulse his music stole 
And held sublime communion with the soul.' 1 

During the many years I had the honour of assisting 
in the production of and conducting the Savoy operas, 
I do not remember ever hearing a harsh word from Sir 
Arthur Sullivan. His wonderful tact steered him 



through all the shoals of dispute and controversy, 
which with most men would have provoked enmity. 
His every suggestion came with such grace and courtesy 
as to still all idle argument. 

One of the most remarkable gifts possessed by 
Sullivan was his retentive memory. He could play 
through on the pianoforte overtures and the most 
intricate concerted numbers of a new opera of which 
he had not, as yet, scored a single note, and at the same 
time he carried in his mind the complete orchestration 
of his work. 

Another striking attribute was the care he took in 
getting the effect he desired. This characteristic is 
shown in the following letter which he wrote me whilst 
on a visit to the South of France. It was concerning 
a song in the opera " Haddon Hall/' written by Sydney 

"Pear Frank.— Herewith the song for Dorothy. 

"Directions for use 

" Take Dorcas and Oswald off the stage at the end 
of l Rice or Rue/ and, Dorothy being left alone, begin 
the recitative, she reading the letter to herself, and go 
on to the end of song. I am writing to Grundy to 
suggest that, after her song, the Puritan should come 
on, and cut the scene with Manners altogether— ballad, 
duet, and dialogue. This will be in exact accordance 
with what I have always desired. 

" Now about song. Recit. ad Hb. and at the chord of 
E major— lento. 

" Song. Light and delicate — two in a bar, exactly 
the same time as the Peers 1 March in Iolanthe (two 



■» — 


,fr* C^Ay — *Y~&a~ *\**/v*^ A>&L±A*2 






crotchets instead of minims, of course) ; this is still 
the same beat — two in a bar, the three quavers being 
equal to the two quavers previously. The coda I want 
a little quicker ; not much, but just a little faster than 
the waltz measure. Get the accompaniment delicate — 
good accent and colla voce. If my ' forties ' swamp the 
voice make them mezzo fortes, of course. I send this 
to-day so that you may work at it Math Miss Hill. 
The score will follow to-morrow ; I can't get it off by 
post, although it is done. Give it to Baird at once, ana 
get it all rehearsed and on the stage by Saturday if 
you can, or else Monday. When you receive the score 
just wire me as follows: 'Sullivan, Roquebrune, 
France. All right. — Francis/ 

" Yours ever, 

" A. S." 

Society idolized Sir Arthur Sullivan, not so much for 
his world-fame as for the charm of his personality. 
Welcome at Court, Sir Arthur was ever a polished and 
gallant courtier ; but, if truth be told, far greater were 
the pleasures he found amongst the small coterie of 
boon companions, men after his own heart, whom he 
delighted to meet either at his club or in his own 
rooms for a rubber at whist or a round of poker. 
Sullivan was a man of whom it might, with reverence, 
be said, he minded not high things but condescended 
to men of low estate. 

Like most men of artistic temperament, our " chief" 
possessed in no lean measure the gambling instinct. 
The excitement of speculation unquestionably acts 
as a sedative to the brain-fever that will attack the 
over-wrought organ of Imagination. A game of chance 



restores the poet's mind to a sense of material things. 
Costly, then, as such recreation will sometimes prove, 
the player, provided his motive is not primarily lust 
for "filthy lucre/' finds in le jeu an efficacious nerve- 
tonic. So it was with Sullivan. There was nothing 
he enjoyed more than a visit to the Riviera. Thither 
S he went season after season, or whenever he was en- 
gaged on any special work of composition. Nowhere 
else could he find such rich streams of inspiration as 
beside the blue waters of the Mediterranean, and 
many of his finest creations owned Nice or Mentone as 
their birthplace. Oftentimes during his sojourns in 
the Sunny South he would send me a wire urging me 
to come down and join him. His usual pretext was 
that he desired to confer with me on certain points 
of the new Savoy opera upon which he was engaged ; 
but, entre nous, I had sometimes reason to suspect that 
it was mainly a kindly excuse on his part to afford me 
a holiday that prompted his invitation. Delightful 
indeed were those holidays to me. Not that I mean 
for a moment to imply that there was no business com- 
bined with pleasure during these visits to the South. 
It was, honestly, not all play and no work ; but in a 
retrospect of those happy days I find it difficult to 
determine which were the most enjoyable hours, those 
devoted to the preliminary business of the new Savoy 
opera, when the maestro, in the peaceful seclusion of 
his sunny villa-residence gave me directions regarding 
his " intention," with minute instructions touching the 
intricacies of his score, or those later hours of the day 
when together we sought brief relaxation at the tables 


of Monte Carlo. Which of the two distinct pastimes 
proved, eventually, the more remunerative need not be 
discussed in this place. I am quite sure our readers 
will not be too inquisitive on such an extraneous point. 

Jesting apart, and above all other considerations, it 
is good now to reflect how those seasons spent in the 
glorious climate of the Mediterranean served not only 
to quicken Sullivan's mental faculties, but also 
to renew the physical strength of a constitution 
which, never too robust, was slowly but too surely 

Sir Arthur's entourage, on his visits to the Riviera, 
as indeed on all his wanderings from home, consisted 
of Louis, his faithful valet ; Clotilde, his devoted house- 
keeper ; " Tommy,' ' his collie friend, and Polly, his pet 
parrot. The last, it might almost be said, played the 
part of court jester, for Pretty Polly possessed an 
endless store of humour, doubtless through infection 
due to many years' close intercourse with her witty 
friend and master. 

Parrot stories, like fish tales, are as a rule boresome. 
They generally bear too strong a family likeness to be 
interesting to anybody but the narrator himself. But 
Sullivan's " Polly " was such an exceedingly accom- 
plished and original " wit " that some of her quaint 
jests may be worth immortalizing in this book. 

On introducing a guest Sullivan would ask his pet 
to tell her name. " Polly, of course," was the prompt 
reply. Then, to emphasize it, she started spelling it — 

" P-O-O-0 " ad lib. until her master bade her begin 

again. After hesitating a moment, she recommenced : 


" P-0-0-0-0 ," ending it up with, " Oh, go to school, 

Polly ! " 

Clotilde, the housekeeper, who had a great affection 
for Polly, was always proud to exhibit the bird's 
accomplishments. One day, she asked her pet to show 
Monsieur Cellier how much she loved Clotilde. The 
good matron, placing her lips close to the cage, said, 
" Polly, kiss her Clotilde" — to which the reply, accom- 
panied by a satirical screech, was " Ha-ha ! Clotilde 
kiss her Louis ! " Clotilde lifted her apron to her face 
and fled the room. 

Polly naturally had a good ear for music, and when 
asked if she could " whistle all the airs from that 
infernal nonsense ' Pinafore ' ? " — would give an ex- 
cellent imitation of Little Buttercup's song. Sullivan 
remarked that " It might not be a perfect rendering 
of the music, but it was certainly quite as good as 
Gilbert's attempts." 

One day Sullivan, in private conference with me 
with reference to Savoy affairs, said, " Ah, by the way, 
Gilbert tells me that so-and-so happened at the theatre 
last night." I found reason to reply, " Gilbert ought 
not to have said that." " Of course not," was the 
opinion volunteered by Polly. 

Sir Frederick Gore Ouseley, lunching with Sullivan, 
told his confrere that he had brought with him the 
score of his latest work — a commemoration ode — • 
remarking, " My dear Arthur, I think you will say I 
use the harp in a most novel fashion." " Really ! " 
responded Sullivan, "do you play it with a bow?' 9 
Polly, who was, as usual, listening intently, screeched 


out " Bow-o — " continuing with a scream of mock- 
laughter. Sullivan threw his serviette at his pet, 
whilst Ouseley laughed almost as loudly as the parrot. 

Thus, it will be seen, Polly was very observant, and 
as inquisitive as Paul Pry. Whenever she was not 
talking she was listening intently — with head twisted 
to right or left, she appeared to be making mental 
notes of the current conversation. Great, then, was 
Polly's concern when, one day, she heard people 
addressing Sullivan as "Sir Arthur.' ' She couldn't 
understand it at all. Was it a compliment she should 
applaud or an insult she should resent ? But when 
it was explained to her that her friend had been 
Knighted by the Queen, her ladyship exclaimed with 
a kind of chuckle, " Oh, all right ! — Go home ! " 

If Sullivan's pet could only recount the tales she 
heard during the long years of their companionship, 
they alone would suffice to fill a bulky and probably 
a not uninteresting volume. 

It was in May 1883, on the occasion of the opening 
of the Royal College of Music, that Dr. Arthur Sullivan, 
in company with Dr. Alexander Mackenzie and Dr. 
George Grove, received the honour of knighthood at 
the hands of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales (afterwards 
Edward VII) on behalf of Queen Victoria. Seldom 
has the bestowal of like distinction met with such 
universal approbation and pleasure, never was knight- 
hood more richly deserved for deeds well done in the 
cause of English art. 


Revival of " The Sorcerer " — Success exceeds that of original produc- 
tion — Rutland Barrington as a singer — Paper battle between 
Cellier and Barrington — Changes in " Sorcerer " cast — Revival of 
" Trial by Jury "— Durward Lely and Florence Dysart— Altered 
taste of play-goers. 

" Princess Ida," having enjoyed a run of 246 per- 
formances, was withdrawn from the Savoy stage on 
October 9th, 1884. The new opera upon which 
Gilbert and Sullivan were engaged not being ripe for 
production, Mr. Carte decided on trying a revival of 
" The Sorcerer." 

Having regard to the fact that "The Sorcerer" 
had proved the least successful of the series of operas 
hitherto produced (at the Opera Comique it had run 
tor 175 nights only) — it was a bold experiment to 
offer it to the public as a rSchauffi. The wisdom of 
such policy was much debated. But seven years had 
passed since the original production, and our astute 
manager was of opinion that the public had, in the 
interim, been educated up to an appreciation of 
Gilbert and Sullivan. D'Oyly Carte knew the British 
public, and felt confident that an appetite for the new 
humour, which, in the beginning, was caviare to ordinary 
play-goers, had ere this been acquired, and that it was 
now in great demand by a more enlightened generation. 



Accordingly, on October nth, 1884, " The Sorcerer/ ' 
very slightly revised, was reproduced at the Savoy 
theatre with the following cast : 

Sir Marmaduke Pointdextre 


Dr. Daly 


John Wellington Wells 

Lady Sangazure 


Mrs. Partlet 


Mr. R. Temple 

Mr. Durward Lely 

Mr. Barrington 

. Mr. Lugg 

. Mr. Grossmith 

Miss Bran dram 

Miss L. Braham 

Miss Ada Dor£e 

Miss Jessie Bond 

The soundness of D'Oyly Carte's judgment was once 
again fully established. The enthusiasm on the first 
night of the revival far exceeded that which greeted 
the original production. Points of humour that once 
fell flat upon an apathetic audience now went home 
with spontaneous effect. The jest which had before- 
time appeared too deep for the ordinary mind to 
fathom was recognized alike in stalls, pit, and gallery. 
It was, forsooth, a remarkable reaction. 

Probably no one in the theatre was more surprised 
than the author and composer. They found them- 
selves striking a balance in their favour when they 
thought they had overdrawn from the bank of public 
praise as far as touched "The Sorcerer " account. 
Possibly Gilbert and Sullivan and Carte, too, began to 
imagine themselves wiser in 1884 than they had been 
in 1877, or, rather, that they had lived and laboured 
before their time. More probably they marvelled 
within themselves that it should have taken seven 


years for their subtle humour to soak into the brain- 
cells of an intelligent public. 

That the delayed triumph of " The Sorcerer " could 
not be attributable to a more able representation than 
that first given was obvious, seeing that, with one or 
two notable exceptions, the leading parts were again 
entrusted to the original exponents, viz. George Gros- 
smith, Rutland Barrington, and Richard Temple. 
Grossmith's " John Wellington Wells " had not grown 
a day older or staler or less mercurial in seven years. 
Richard Temple sang and acted as well as, but not 
better than, he did of old. Barrington's " Vicar" was 
a faithful replica of his own admirable caricature of a 
country parson, and, if this clever comedian's tune- 
fulness had not exactly improved with age, the im- 
perturbability of his demeanour had so greatly 
developed with experience, that any lapse from absolute 
musical perfection came by courtesy to be regarded 
as something like a virtue. The rendering of Dr. 
Daly's famous ballad, "Time was when Love and 
I were well acquainted/' may perhaps, to highly 
critical ears have seemed to fall somewhat short of 
the absolute standards of pitch, yet who in the 
world cared one whit for that, when acting and 
gesture were simply irresistibly diverting and con- 
summately good ? 

It may be added that the humour of Barrington's 
vocal methods was intensified by the discovery that the 
actor had failed to maintain that high proficiency as 
a performer on the flageolet which, after much arduous 
study, he had acquired in 1877. Then he had sue- 


oeeded in mastering the stave or two incidental to his 
own accompaniment of the song, "I'm engaged to 
So-and-so " ; but now, in 1884, the singer and the 
reed instrument were no longer on speaking terms. 
They were, in truth, at very striking variance. But 
this was a detail which in no way affected the success 
of Dr. Daly redivivus. 

I sincerely trust that Rutland Barrington, who was 
ever as ready to appreciate another man's joke as he 
was to perpetrate his own, will not deem me unkind 
to include in my reminiscences such amusing and 
perfectly well-meant reflections on his peculiar artistic 
idiosyncrasies. Barrington and I, throughout the long 
course of our association, were always good friends and 
loyal colleagues. At the same time I am bound to 
confess that, on strictly musical problems, we were not 
always precisely of like opinion. As a rule, it was simply 
a question of Key, but there were occasions when more 
important arguments arose between us. 

For instance, in 1909 he and I were guilty of in- 
dulging in a small and playful paper war. The casus 
belli was Barrington 1 s public criticism of the Savoy 
orchestra, and also the views he had expressed regard- 
ing the expediency and right of accepting or declining 

Vigorous was the fire we directed against each other, 
but, as our cartridges were blank and our disposition 
void of intent to wound, neither of us suffered from 
the duel. Perhaps, also, neither of us succeeded in 
convincing the other of mistaken judgment. 

The subject of our controversy being one of more 


than personal concern, with all apologies to friend 
Baxrington, I venture to reprint an article which 
appeared at the time in the Westminster Gazette: 

Mr. Cellier answers Mr. Barrington 

" The breezy utterances of Mr. Rutland Barrington 
on encores and orchestras the other night before the 
Old Playgoers' Club have given rise to a good deal of 

" ' Whoever Mr. Rutland Barrington was aiming at 
in his speech/ said Mr. Francis Cellier, the musical 
director of the Savoy, to a Westminster representative, 
1 1 am quite certain it was not me. Sir Arthur Sullivan 
was a perfect master of the situation/ 

" ' Mr. Barrington suggests that the orchestra should 
be as a lifeboat to the singer, and not a foaming wave 
to drown him ? ' 

" ' I quite appreciate the metaphor/ Mr. Cellier 
replied with a smile ; ' and it is scarcely necessary to 
remind Mr. Barrington that Sir Arthur Sullivan was 
often a good deal more than a lifeboat to him ! In- 
deed, in one particular phrase in " Patience ' ' Sir Arthur 
ut in a strenuous note for the sole purpose of saving 

r. Barrington from falling overboard ! 

" f So far as the drowning of the singer is concerned, 
that tragedy may come about from three causes, either 
together or separately — bad scoring, bad orchestra, 
and bad singing ; but as a rule this difficulty is removed 
during rehearsal/ 

"With respect to Mr. Barrington' s remark as to 
whether the singer or the conductor should determine 



the question of taking the encores, Mr. Cellier pointed 
out that, so far as the Savoy was concerned, the matter 
was settled by the management. 

" ' Mrs. D'Oyly Carte/ he said, f has received many 
letters complaining of encores, and they have been 
stopped because it was found that the enthusiasm of 
the people in the pit and gallery led to the annoyance 
of the occupants of the stalls. 

" ' Many things in relation to encores would probably 
surprise the public if they were generally known. In 
''The Yeomen of the Guard," for instance, we always 
have a passionate demand for a repetition, which I 
avoid with the utmost care. All lovers of this opera 
will remember the quartette towards the end " When 
a lover goes a-wooing " — a very sad number for Phoebe 
and Jack Point. The latter retires in distress at the 
loss of Elsie, and Phoebe is left on the stage to mourn the 
loss of Fairfax. Not only have Fairfax and Elsie to 
change too quickly to allow of the encore being taken, 
but Sir Arthur Sullivan expressly desired that a repeti- 
tion should not be given, on the ground that the 
dramatic effect would be utterly spoiled. And that is 
why we always turn a deaf ear to the clamour of the 
audience for a second performance of that quartette/ 

" A stout defence of the orchestra against the charge 
of over-strenuousness was made by Mr. F. Orcherton, 
the secretary of the Orchestral Association, who was 
himself in the Savoy orchestra for fifteen years. 

" ' You will never in any other orchestral perform- 
ances get such pianissimos as are to be heard at the 
Savoy/ he said. ' The question of volume is entirely 
a matter for the conductor/ " 

But now to return to our reminiscences of "The 
Sorcerer's " revival. The new-comers, Durward Lely 



as Alexis, Rosina Brandram as Lady Sangazure, and 
Leonora Braham as Aline, each by admirable per- 
formance undoubtedly helped to lift the opera. They 
all maintained the reputation they had already earned 
as popular Savoyards. But in general acting and 
singing ensemble the company, it cannot be said, 
differed materially from the original. 

No more could the superior mounting of the opera, 
made possible by the greater capacity and modern 
equipments of the Savoy stage, have accounted for the 
increased favour extended to " The Sorcerer " by the 
audience. No ! it was simply and purely that Gilbert 
and Sullivan had come to be understood by the play- 
going public, and that our brilliant author and com- 
poser were now looked upon as the Castor and Pollux 
of the lyric heavens, shining down in the full glory 
of their magnitude through the theatrical firmament. 
Twin-stars as they were in the brilliancy of their 
natural wit and humour, it might be imagined that 
Gilbert and Sullivan, like their mythological proto- 
types, had been hatched from one egg brought forth 
by a goddess. 

As an after-piece to "The Sorcerer/' "Trial by 
Jury" was revived, and, like the larger work, was 
welcomed back with enthusiastic applause. Rutland 
Barrington's Judge was as excellent a caricature por- 
trait as was his Vicar. Durward Lel/s singing in the 
part of the Defendant had been enough to win a 
favourable verdict of a less irresponsible jury, and the 
judgment of a less amorous judge, whilst Miss Florence 
Dysaft, who as the Plaintiff now made her d6but at the 



Savoy, charmed all hearts, not only in "The Court," 
but throughout the auditorium. 

These, the first revivals of Gilbert and Sullivan's 
earliest works, are more particularly memorable as the 
initial evidence of the perennial attributes of the 
Savoy operas. It was at least proved that "The 
Sorcerer" and " Trial by Jury" were far from mori- 
bund when withdrawn from the stage after their first 

The revival of " The Sorcerer " in America furnished 
a still more remarkable proof of the altered taste of 
play-goers. When first produced in the States the opera 
had been condemned as an utter failure ; when re- 
produced a few years later its success equalled that 
achieved in England. 


Tuesday, Jan. 6th, 1914. 

It is with great sorrow I have to record the death 
of my friend and collaborator, Francis Cellier, who 
passed away at his home in Surbiton last night. 

For many weeks he had been in a weak but, seem- 
ingly, not precarious state of health. His sufferings 
were at times so acute that it was only by sheer pluck 
that he summoned up energy to assist me in the com- 
pilation of his personal reminiscences. But, despite 
excruciating pain, he retained his mental vigour almost 
to the end ; at intervals he was able to dictate a cheery 
anecdote or happy memory, and generally to guide 
my pen in describing his experiences of Thirty Years 
at the Savoy. Gradually, however, the pages of the 
past grew dim in his mind ; the light was failing ; life 
was slowly ebbing, and the mirthful stories he was 
wont to tell and with which it was hoped to brighten 
this volume he had no longer strength to relate. 

So now the task of completing these memoirs de- 
volves upon myself alone. 

When, at the outset, Cellier invited me to collaborate 
with him on a book of the Savoy, I gladly accepted the 
compliment his confidence implied. I felt sure that 

the labour involved would be pleasant, seeing that it 




would embrace many happy memories of a common 
interest. For, although my name is not widely known 
in connection with the Savoy, I claim to be one of the 
oldest and closest surviving associates and camp- 
followers of the D'Oyly Carte Army Corps. I can 
boast of having witnessed the original productions of 
every Gilbert and Sullivan opera, including that of 
" Trial by Jury " at the Royalty Theatre in 1875, 
right down to what may be called the interregnum at 
the Savoy in 1901, when Mr. Carte let the theatre to 
Mr. William Greet, who then continued the run of the 
Hood-Sullivan and German Opera, "The Emerald Isle." 
I have enjoyed the personal acquaintance of leading 
Savoyards with very few exceptions, and, further, I have 
served as acting-manager of a D'Oyly Carte Touring 
Company. Thus I am in an advantageous position 
to speak of the Savoy and Savoyards in general, and, 
perhaps, of Sir Arthur Sullivan in particular ; for, as 
intimated in an early chapter of the present book, I 
knew the composer long before he met the future part- 
ner of his fame, Sir William Gilbert. 

Arthur Sullivan and I met first when he was a 
" child " of the Chapel Royal, and I only just escaping 
from the nursery in my parents' home in Devon, and 
it was there and then he composed his first song, and 
dedicated it to my mother. 

Such are the credentials I offer whilst venturing to 

continue these memoirs of the Savoy. 

. . . . . 

On Friday, February 9th, 1914, Francois Arsdne 
Cdlier was laid to rest in Brookwood Cemetery. As a 


token of respect to the memory of the old Chapel 
Royal boy, the funeral service was conducted by Canon 
Edgar Sheppard, Chaplain to the King, and Sub-dean 
of the Royal Chapels. 

" Is life a boon ? 

If so, it must befal 

That Death, whene'er he call, 

Must call too soon." 

Cunningham Bridgeman. 




By Cunningham Bridgeman 



Pfmlt'iy Ellis & 



On the stage it sometimes happens— happily not often 
— that a sudden attack of illness incapacitates an actor 
from continuing his performance. In such event an 
understudy takes his place to the end of the play. It 
is a trying ordeal for the understudy, yet he is pleased 
and proud of the opportunity afforded him to air his 
ability. There have been previous occasions, too, 
when, death having claimed an author or composer 
ere the fulfilment of the work he was pursuing, its 
completion has been entrusted to another's hand. One 
memorable instance occurred when Edward German 
undertook the task of finishing the musical score of 
Basil Hood's Savoy Opera, "The Emerald Isle/' which 
Sir Arthur Sullivan, at his death, had left incomplete 
— and here, let it be said, right well did German carry 
out his difficult and most delicate task. 

But the circumstances surrounding the compilation 
of the present book are, I think, unique. Here was 
a famous Savoyard who, having essayed to prepare a 
volume of reminiscences of his departed colleagues, 
is taken from the scene at a moment when his story 
was but half told.. The singer is called away to the 
land, there to rejoin the friends of whose deeds 



he had been singing songs of praise. Can the refrain 
be taken up in precisely the same key and in perfect 
harmony with the opening chords ? All that can be 
hoped for from the understudy is that he shall do his 
best to attune his mind to that of the principal whose 
role he is called upon to take. 

Francois Cellier has been, as it were, promoted 
from the post of authorship to take the prouder place 
of fourth hero of the life-romance which he, himself, 
had attempted to relate. Another may speak of 
him as he never could have spoken of himself. For 
Frank, as his familiars used to call him, was not one 
to " stir it and stump it and blow his own trumpet/' 
I, who knew him well and greatly esteemed him, can 
testify that a more unostentatious man never lived. 
In these few personal notes I intend to speak of my 
friend as I found him, without adding to or detracting 
from his true merits. 

His only enemy in the world, if he had one, was 
himself. He was not, I think, his own best friend, 
seeing that Cellier was possessed of talents which he 
was too well content to hide beneath the bushel of his 
obligations to the Savoy. This was the excuse he was 
wont to make for not turning to account his own latent 
musical ability. It might almost be said that his 
good fortune was his misfortune. Yet it need not 
have been so had he not made the Savoy his world. 
That his post of Musical Director was a very responsible, 
and, at times, arduous one may not be gainsaid, yet, 
during the long and continuous runs of the Savoy 
operas, he was not without leisure, there were hours 


and opportunities of which he might, had he so willed, 
have advantageously availed himself. But if Frank 
Cellier was a Savoyard of Savoyards, he was, at the 
same time, a chief amongst Bohemians. There was 
no recreation so pleasurable to him as to foregather 
with kindred spirits, hour after hour, to recount, as 
he alone could, stories spaced with wit and humour. 
In his prime, Cellier was an acknowledged king of 

As a conductor of light opera, Franyois Cellier was, 
generally, accepted as the beau-id6al. To quote the 
words of "Lancelot," the esteemed musical critic of 
the Referee: 

" Mr. Cellier was connected with the D'Oyly Carte 
Opera Company, directing performances of the Gilbert 
and Sullivan operas, at home and abroad, for over 
thirty-five years, during which time he maintained the 
high standard set up by the librettist and composer 
with whom his life was so closely identified. It was 
while fulfilling these duties that Mr. Cellier gained the 
esteem of musicians by the finish of the performances 
under his direction and by his quiet and unostentatious 
manner/ 1 

It should be added that Cellier obtained the faculty 
possessed by few conductors of controlling not only 
his orchestra and the stage company, but also the 
audience. If he thought an encore unreasonable or 
inconsiderate, he had only to shake his uplifted hand, 
when, lo ! as if by wireless telegraphy, the signal was 
read, the meaning interpreted, and the loudest shouts 
promptly subsided. 


Cellier's love of music was, seemingly, confined to 
the compositions of Arthur Sullivan and his brother 
Alfred. With* the natural predilection of blood re- 
lationship, he esteemed the composer of "Dorothy" 
and Gray's " Elegy " as facile princeps among con- 
temporary English composers. Frank often argued 
that, given the same conditions, and, especially, an 
equally worthy librettist, his brother would never have 
played, as it were, second fiddle to Sullivan in the 
overture to Fame and Fortune. Be this as it may, 
it is incontrovertible that the Cellier brothers, each 
alike gifted with the genius of melody, were lacking 
in ambition and aptitude to work out their own salva- 
tion. Alfred, it has often been told, was so egregiously 
inert that, on critical occasions, such as happened when 
he was composing the music to Gilbert's " Mounte- 
banks," he had to be locked in a room and not set free 
until he had finished the required score. Frank, his 
younger brother, was naturally of the same disposition. 
In witness, let me give personal evidence. 

Mrs. D'Oyly Carte having accepted an unpretentious 
one-act piece of mine, called " Bob/' commissioned 
Frank Cellier to write the music without delay, as she 
wished to place it on the programme on the touring 
R6pertoire Company. Despite entreaties, protesta- 
tions, and threats from Mrs. Carte and myself, it was 
months before his score of six musical numbers was 
handed to the management. The music of " Bob," 
like that of other small pieces written by Mr. Frank 
Desprez and by Mr. Harry Greenbank and produced 
at the Savoy, was exceedingly graceful, pretty, and 


melodious, indicating that the composer might be 
capable of bigger things if only he would sit down 
and work. " Bob " proved so successful that Mrs. 
Carte commissioned Cellier and myself to collaborate 
on another " first piece." 

I lost no time and prepared a libretto. With typed 
copy I hastened to Cellier. He appeared much pleased 
with it, in fact he said it was vastly superior to " Bob." 
" Very well, Frank," said I ; " you remember it is a 
fortnight to-day since you asked me to write a book ! 
Now, there are only seven lyrics to set ; will you let 
Mrs. Carte have the music a fortnight hence ? " 

Mrs. Cellier, who was present, smiled — a questioning 
smile ! She knew, as I did, Frank's vagaries. Never- 
theless, within the fortnight Cellier had composed 
every number, and much to my delight played them 
through to me. But — he had not put his compositions 
down on paper. 

Some weeks later, Mrs. Carte wrote to me asking if 
I could not induce Cellier to let her have the music, 
as she wished to produce the piece. But, since I could 
not lock my colleague in a room until he finished his 
task, we could never get the score, and so, alas ! the 
little piece could not be produced. Mrs. Carte there- 
upon revived " Trial by Jury " as a first piece. " Bun- 
combe's Benefit," as my trifle was called, was shelved, 
whilst Cellier* s seven charming songs were, for all I 
know to the contrary, buried with the composer. 
Such is the eccentricity of genius! Thus it will be 
understood how I have ventured to suggest that my 
old friend's self was his worst enemy. 


Like his brother Alfred, who composed music to 
Gray's " Elegy/' Francois " wasted his fragrance on 
the desert air." He took but the vaguest interest in 
either drama or music apart from the Gilbert and 
Sullivan operas. One day I begged him to come with 
me to hear duck's " Orpheus," which, produced and 
played by Madame Marie Brema, was drawing all 
musical London to matin6es at the Savoy. I had 
attended the performance several times and felt sure 
that Cellier would enjoy it as much as I had done. 
He promised to join me, but, much to my disappoint- 
ment, he did not enter his stall until just as Orpheus 
was beginning the glorious " Che Faro." He was 
sufficiently pleased to remain to the end of the Act. 
He then left me, saying he had to meet some one for 
a moment in the Savoy Hotel, but would return in 
good time for Act II. But he never came back. When 
afterwards we met, Frank apologized and explained 
how, in the first instance, he could not tear himself 
away from a congenial party of story-telling friends, 
and that afterwards, on entering the hotel, he was 
again beset by friends — that he had been telling 
everybody all about " Orpheus," how much he had 
enjoyed it, and advising them all not on any account 
to miss such a treat. It was always the same; 
if once a group of convivial acquaintances got hold 
of Frank Cellier, they would never let him go 
until they had extracted from him just one more 

Mr. Joseph Ivimey, the well-known musical director 
of the Strolling Players' Orchestra, and an old friend 


of the Cellier family, tells some amusing tales con- 
cerning Frank. 

" He gave me my first lesson in conducting," says 
Ivimey. " I was rehearsing some amateurs in ' Trial 
by Jury/ which was to be performed in Surbiton, with 
full orchestral accompaniment. Never having con- 
ducted, I asked Cellier to give me a few hints. Frank 
sat himself at a piano saying, ' Now, take the stick and 
conduct me — whilst I play " Trial by Jury." ' Before 
I had beat many bars he stopped. * My good friend, / 
am conducting you, and if I followed your beat Sullivan 
would never know his own music/ That was a hint 
I have never forgotten — but," said Ivimey continuing, 
" here's a real good story about our poor old friend. 
One summer Cellier and his family were spending 
their holidays at Folkestone, and I formed one of their 
party. On a fine August morning Frank suggested 
that he and I should make a day's excursion across 
Channel ' just for the sake of a blow/ he said. Arrived 
in Boulogne, we repaired to the Casino, where we in- 
dulged in a mild game of Petits Chevaux. At length, 
returning to the pier, we saw our boat a mile out of 
harbour. What were we to do ? After much debate 
we determined upon a visit to Paris. So Cellier wrote 
out a telegram to his wife in Folkestone : ' Lost boat — 
going on to Paris — home to-morrow/ At the same 
time he prepared a wire to an hotel proprietor whom 
he knew in Paris, engaging two rooms. These tele- 
grams he entrusted to a commissionaire to despatch. 
On arriving at the Hotel de Bade we found that our 
rooms were reserved, but Monsieur rhdtelier, handing 


Cellier the telegram he had received, remarked that he 
could not interpret it all. Following the order for 
rooms were these words : ' Could not send Folkestone 
message — you gave me bad five-franc piece/ The 
consequence was, poor Mrs. Cellier was kept in terrible 
suspense until we turned up at Folkestone the following 

Mr. Ivime/s description of his day in Paris with 
Francis Cellier, with no clothes but those they stood 
in) would form an interesting brochure ; but, as our 
pages are limited, I may not here tell more of their 
adventures. Let it suffice that Mr. Ivimey vows that, 
although he did not know a word of French, he never 
had such a delightful experience as during those few 
hours spent in the gay city. 

No cheerier or more intellectual holiday companion 
than Frank Cellier could one desire. His charm of 
manner, combined with infinite tact, ingratiated him 
into the hearts of strangers, just as his humour and 
bonhomie endeared him to his numberless friends who 
deeply lament his loss. 

Frank Cellier left a widow, three daughters, and a 
son Francis (familiarly "Jack"), who adopted the 
stage as a profession. After having served his ap- 
prenticeship under the aegis of Mr. Edward Terry, 
young Francois entered into a partnership, at first 
commercial and afterwards matrimonial, with Miss 
Glossop Harris (daughter of Sir Augustus Harris). 
Together they manage a Shakespearean Touring 
Company, which in due time has achieved high reputa- 
tion throughout the provinces. Without hesitation I 


may affirm that, next to Sir Johnston Forbes Robert- 
son's, young Cellier's Hamlet is the finest I have ever 
seen. His exposition of Shakespearean text, rendered 
in a rich, melodious voice, is most convincing, and 
a treat to listen to. If I am not much mistaken, 
Francis Cellier, fits, will, when the chance comes, be 
found in the front rank of English actors. 

Cellier' s second daughter, Marguerite, is also on 
the stage and fast gaining popularity. At the time 
of her father's death Miss Cellier was appearing as 
leading lady in an English dramatic company touring 
the United States. 

There can be little doubt that the strenuous labour 
attached to a musical directorship on tour was too 
much for the veteran conductor. Not only did it 
tell on his physical constitution, but the ungrateful 
task of rehearsing a full repertoire of operas, week 
after week, with local orchestras of varying quality, 
grated on his sensitive nerves. He held on as long as 
strength permitted, but it was too long. Nature at 
length asserted its sway, and the worn-out conductor 
was compelled to resign his b&ton to a younger man. 



<< <rvr<n «*m>~ n*> tt^tfTivr^M 


The unqualified success that had attended the chil- 
dren's performance of "H.M.S. Pinafore" at the 
Opera Comique in 1879 induced Mr. Carte to arrange 
a similar juvenile production of "The Pirates of 
Penzance/' to take place at the Savoy for a series of 
Christmastide matinees. 

To Richard Barker was again entrusted the stage- 
drilling of the miniature company, whilst Francis 
Cellier was a second time appointed music and singing 
master to the little people. 

Obedient to call, no fewer than 400 boys and girls, 
of all sorts and sizes, mustered at the stage-door on 
the appointed day in November. From that morning 
onward until the production of the piece on Boxing 

Day 1884, OT > * n * act » to th e en <* of the holidays, neither 
Barker nor Cellier had an hour they could call their 
own. Their first task was to select from that swarm 
of youthful histrionic aspirants twenty young ladies 
and twenty-five young gentlemen who could not only 
sing but speak. As regards their acting qualifica- 
tions, that was a secondary consideration. Mr. Barker 
would see to that ! When, in his later and lazier 

period of life, Cellier looked back upon those auditions, he 



marvelled how he could have summoned up the patience 
and energy to listen for hours on end to the vocal 
attempts of those four hundred untutored juveniles. 
Yet, at the time, there was so much of the serio-comic 
element in those trials of voices that the tedium of 
the task was vastly relieved. 

Notwithstanding the fact that it had been ad- 
vertised that no girl or boy above the age of sixteen 
need apply, it was easy to discover, on close inspection, 
that a small percentage of the assembly, especially 
amongst the young ladies, had arrived at years of 
discretion ; at any rate, they were well out of their 
teens. These, after severe cross-examination, were the 
first to be politely weeded out. Then the concert began. 

Each candidate was requested, in turn, to sing a scale. 
Some did not know what a scale was. That did not 
matter. If the voice showed promise of fertility, 
master or miss was asked to sing a verse of a song — 
any song he or she knew. As a rule, the song chosen 
was one of the latest music-hall ditties — such, for 
instance, as " Two lovely black eyes/' which was much 
in vogue at that time. 

There were comparatively few amongst the com- 
petitors who had been taught a note of music, but, 
generally, they displayed remarkably keen ears for 
tune and time, whilst the voices were sweet enough to 
justify their parents and guardians in offering the 
services of their children. There were, of course, a 
certain number who came of musical and dramatic 
stock. These were ready to render a grand-operatic 
aria, or to recite Shakespeare by the yard. They con- 


sidered themselves born actors or actresses. It was 
from this rank that the final selections were made. 

It was pathetic to witness the anxiety of each 
little candidate to learn the verdict after trial ; the 
smiles of the accepted ones, the tears of the rejected. 

Very few of the warblers betrayed nervousness. 
They had been accustomed to face an audience in the 
Theatre Royal Back Parlour. The glare of the foot- 
lights might, perhaps, dazzle them at first ; but there 
was little cause to anticipate that they would suffer 
from stage-fright — a complaint that more generally 
attacks experienced artistes who become self-conscious 
that the issue of their performance means success or 
failure, not only to themselves individually, but to all 
concerned in the stage-production. 

The auditions lasted for a week, or more, at the end 
of which time the gallant 400 had been reduced to 100, 
then further, it might be, to 60. From these were 
chosen the principals, and from the residue the chorus 
of 45. All that then remained for Barker and Cellier 
to do was to transform the young people into singing 
actors and actresses. 

Fortunately, Cellier had had, before his theatrical 
days, considerable experience in teaching children 
music, so that the means and methods were no in- 
superable problems for him to solve. The intelligence 
of the little people was most remarkable, added to 
which they one and all entered upon their studies 
with splendid keenness, patient attention, and untiring 
energy. The very thought of appearing in public, 
and at the Savoy too, of all places, was to them a 


dream of immeasurable glory. The boys had all 
played at policemen before in their gardens or play- 
grounds, but now they would be " real life-like Bobbies, 
just like Mr. Rutland Barrington " ; and some of them 
were to be bloodthirsty pirates, only with stupidly 
tender hearts. Oh, what a spree they were going to 
have, these holidays — and — just fancy ! — going to be 
paid for it ! Wasn't it all enough to incite the boys 
to do their best ? " As to the spree," thought Barker, 
" I'll see to that ! " 

The little girls, in less demonstrative fashion, betrayed 
becoming pride in their new and responsible vocation. 
Probably they had all, at some time or other, heard 
of Madame Patti — " Patti had been next to nobody 
when she was a child. Why shouldn't we become 
stars of equal magnitude ? As for Leonora Braham, 
and Jessie Bond, Rosina Brandram, and other popular 
Savoy ladies, we have seen them often; but we are 
not going to try and copy them — they are all splendid 
actresses and singers, of course, but then " — argued the 
juvenile ladies — " they are not so young as we are, 
and people like young — very young persons on the 
stage if they are not too precocious — we don't intend 
to be at all precocious" — "No," thought Dick 
Barker—" not if I know it ! " 

Naturally there were several well-meaning people 
who once again must direct their pince-nez towards 
the Savoy stage. They took exception to these per- 
formances, fearing that the children's education would 
be neglected, and that they would be first over-worked, 
and then spoilt by adulation. The minds of these 


worthy people were, however, very soon set at ease, 
when it became known that Mr. D'Oyly Carte and 
his kind-hearted and ever-thoughtful managerial help- 
mate, Miss Helen Le Noir, were making the welfare 
and good conduct of the little company the object of 
their special care. The Board of Education were more 
than satisfied that every child would not only be well 
looked after, but would also reap great benefit by the 
tuition and discipline that would attend their pro- 
fessional engagements at the Savoy Theatre. 

Without pausing to gossip about the rehearsals 
which, by the way, it was my privilege occasionally 
to witness, let me now recall the cast of principals who 
appeared in the children's " Pirates of Penzance " on 
the afternoon of Boxing Day, 1884. 

General Stanley 

Pirate King 





Master Edward Percy 

Master Stephen Adeson 

Master William Pickering 

Master Henry Tebbutt 

Master Charles Adeson 

Miss Elsie Joel 

Ruth . Miss Georgie Esmond 

It would be a pleasure to record the names of all those 
five-and-forty other children of the Company, seeing 
that they, one and all, won butterfly fame during that 
Christmas-time of 1884. But I should be sorry to 
provoke, as I might by so doing, the jealousy of elder 
Savoyards — those who for many succeeding years 
have done yeoman's service in the Chorus of the Gilbert 
and Sullivan operas. 
Thirty years have passed by since the juvenile 


" Pirates " captured London. Those of the crew who 
have survived have reached the prime of life, and, 
may be, become proud parents of equally clever mites 
of humanity. Some have continued to pursue the 
theatrical career they started so auspiciously ; but 
the majority have been swallowed up in the vortex 
of London and been reduced to nobodies in particular. 

Recalling to mind that bright and merry crowd 
who gladdened us all by their sweet singing and 
winsome acting, some of us may instinctively fed a 
pang of regret that those delightful children should 
ever have been forced to grow up into men and women 
of every-day life. 

But some of us say the same about kittens : 

" Kittie, Kittie ! <-<. 

What a pity — 
What a dreadful pity that 
You, who are so pert and pretty. 
Should become a nasty cat ! " ^ -■"/ j 

.*• / L i 

/ ' 

* t 

< ( 

f •' . , . » . r. 

By way of a testimonial to the success of the chil- 
dren's opera, I cannot do better than reprint an 
extract from a notice of the first performance which 
appeared in the Daily Telegraph. If I am not much 
mistaken, it came from the pen of the late Clement 

" It was not mere training, parroting or imitation 
— they did not talk their lines as if they had been 
drilled — the meaning of the words went home to 
every individual in the audience solely through the 
intelligence of the performer. Let the truth be told 


— when before has any one ever understood a Gilbertian 
opera, without a book to guide them ? A rustle of 
leaves has shown how slavishly the printed words have 
been followed. But yesterday afternoon not one in a 
couple of hundred had a book, or even wanted a book, 
for the very good reason that the first principles of 
elocution had been conveyed to the baby performers. 
Delighted, indeed, must Sir Arthur Sullivan have been 
to hear his charming music interpreted with such skill 
— which is one thing — and such taste — which is quite 
another thing. The rarest thing in the world is it 
to get a boy with one of those pure, piercing, and 
heavenly boys voices ever to sing with expression and 
feeling. We hear them in cathedral ' quires and places 
where they sing.' We compare them to the angels 
without a soul. The long cathedral aisles, the mystery 
of the place, the devotional attitude of those about 
them persuade us that there is a heart in a boy's 
soprano voice. As a rule it is illusion — Vox etpraeterea 
nihil: 9 

After the Christmas holidays the children " Pirates " 
were sent on tour, and in all the leading provincial 
towns were welcomed with unbounded enthusiasm. 

Among Cellier's reminiscences of the Savoy none 
was to him more pleasant than that of his association 
with the infant crew of " H.M.S. Pinafore " and " The 
Pirates of Penzance." 

"THE mikado" 

False prophets — A foreign subject — Japanese village at Knightsbridge 
— Queen Victoria's gift to Emperor of Japan — English society 
becomes Japanesey — Gilbert discovers new material — The author 
originates his leading dramatis personae — No character taken from 
Japanese history — No Samurais introduced and why — A Japanese 
dancer and a Geisha engaged to coach the Savoy Company — 
Savoyards transformed into Japs — Amusing rehearsals — " The 
Three Little Maids " excel as students — Costumes and accessories 
— -Cast of " The Mikado "—The critics— Punch's view of " The 
Mikado " — George Grossmith's " understandings " — Success of 
" The Mikado " in London and New York — Sullivan entertains 
Prince of Wales at dinner — H.R.H. listens to performance of the 
opera through telephone. 

After a run of 150 performances, " The Sorcerer " 
expired, or, rather let us say, retired to rest for a 
while on March 12th, 1885. Two nights later " The 
Mikado " came to light. 

After the production of " Princess Ida," a rumour 
had got about that Gilbert and Sullivan's next venture 
would be an opera of a different type, less extravagant, 
more psychologically subtle and serious, and, at the 
same time, quite as humorous as any of the past 
series. "It is to be/* said the prophet, " a real, 
genuine, English comic opera, no topsy-turvy precious 

nonsense this time/' Like every man who talks & 



trovers son chapeau, the foreteller was somewhat out 
of his reckoning. One marvels at the fabulous number 
of falsehoods bred daily by Busybody out of Imagina- 
tion ! And to what end ? Simply, it may be supposed, 
to provide "copy" for hungry journalists. 

Gilbert and Sullivan, it might be assumed, knew 
better than anybody else what style of work best 
suited them conjointly or separately. If they had 
discovered that their united strength lay in serious 
opera, they would, doubtless, have turned their atten- 
tion to such rather than risk continuing to harp on 
the same strings that had hitherto pleased the public 
ear, but which might in time become monotonous and 
tedious. " The Mikado " marked some departure from 
both the Gilbertian and Sullivanesque methods, in 
so far as it was not another facetious skit on the follies 
and foibles of the author's compatriots, and that the 
music was not so redolent of Old England. But the 
good wine needed no label to tell its vintage. Its 
bouquet was sufficient. 

Only Gilbert and Sullivan could have written and 
composed " The Mikado/' Gilbert, having determined 
to leave his own country alone for a while, sought else- 
where for a subject suitable to his peculiar humour. 
A trifling accident inspired him with an idea. One day 
an old Japanese sword which, for years, had been hang- 
ing on the wall of his study, fell from its place. This 
incident directed his attention to Japan. Just at that 
time a company of Japanese had arrived in England 
and set up a little village of their own in Knightsbridge. 
Beneath the shadow of the Cavalry Barracks the quaint 


little people squatted and stalked, proud and uncon- 
conscious of the contrast between their own diminutive 
forms and those of the Royal Horse Guards across the 
road. By their strange arts and devices and manner 
of life, these chosen representatives of a remote race 
soon attracted all London. Society hastened to be 
Japanned, just as a few years ago Society had been 
aestheticized. The Lily, after a brief reign, had been 
deposed ; it was now the turn of the Chrysanthemum 
to usurp the rightful throne of the English Rose. 

As all the world knows — although nowadays it is 
difficult to realize the fact — the last decades of the 
nineteenth century marked the full awakening of Japan. 
In 1857 th e Queen of England had sent the Emperor 
a present of a warship, following which the Emperor 
had graciously yielded assent to his subjects visiting 
England for the purpose of studying Western civiliza- 
tion. But it was not until the native colony was 
formed at Knightsbridge that the Japanese and the 
English began to know each other. Hitherto compara- 
tive strangers, the former had now come across the 
seas to cement more firmly the friendship which 
Queen Victoria's gift had done so much to promote. 
Our visitors came to learn our manners and customs. 
They little imagined how ready we should be to take 
lessons from them. The most imitative people of the 
universe soon found us imitating them. It was not 
because we desired to bestow upon our guests " the 
sincerest form of flattery 19 ; it was, rather, because 
English Society delights in the New: especially if 
the new be old, very old ; the older the better, so long 


as some one has made it famous somewhere at some 
time. Because it was new to London, Society was 
charmed to adopt even a celestial mode. Our Japanese 
friends were surprised, and, naturally, gratified. They 
were still more flattered when they learnt that they had 
inspired England's most distinguished librettist with 
the basis of an opera, an opera that was destined to 
become the most popular of the Savoy series. 

For the material of his play Gilbert had not to 
journey to Yokohama or Tokyo. He found all he 
wanted in Khightsbridge, within a mile of his own 
home in South Kensington. But our author had to 
face many difficulties in the development of his novel 
notion of preparing a Japanese play for the English 

To begin with, one of the most essential qualifica- 
tions of Savoy actors and actresses was that of physical 
grace ; the poise of each limb, the elegant sway and 
easy motion of the figure, the noble dignity of action 
which distinguishes the English stage. All this had 
to be undone again, only more so than had been neces- 
sary in the case of Bunthorne, Grosvenor, and their 
followers in the play of " Patience." Every proud, 
upright, and lithesome Savoyard would have to be 
transformed into the semblance of a Jap who, to our 
Western eyes, was not the ideal of perfect grace and 

But Gilbert soon found a way out of that difficulty. 
Here were living models, real Japanese ready to hand. 
They should teach the ladies and gentlemen of the 
Savoy how to walk and dance, how to sit down and 


how to express their every emotion by the evolutions of 
the fan. Confident, then, in his ability to overcome all 
obstacles, our author applied his mind to the subject 
of Japan, read up the ancient history of the nation and, 
finding therein much from which to extract humour, 
soon conceived a plot and story. 

It must not, however, be supposed that Gilbert dis- 
covered the originals' of any of his dramatis ptrsonae 
in the chronicles of the times of Jimmu Tenno, first 
Emperor of Japan, or his descendants. " Pooh Bah " 
— that worthy who comprehended within his own 
person a complete cabinet of ministers, together with 
other important offices — Pooh Bah, it will be remem- 
bered, traced his ancestry back to a " protoplasmal 
primordial atomic globule" ; consequently, no Japanese 
gentleman of rank, however sensitive, could imagine 
himself or his progenitors to have been made the sub- 
ject of the English author's satire. Likewise neither 
Koko, the Lord High Executioner, nor Nanki-Poo dis- 
guised as a second trombone, could possibly be identified 
with persons associated with Old Japan. Figuratively, 
all these notabilities may have been portrayed on 
lacquer-trays, screens, plates, or vases, but none of 
them had ever lived in the flesh before they came to 
life at the Savoy Theatre. 

As regards Gilbert's portrait of a Mikado, having 
carefully studied the outline history of Japanese 
civilization, I have failed to discover any sovereign 
potentate, from the Emperor Jimmu, founder of the 
Empire, down to the present dynasty, or Meiji Period, 
who could by the greatest stretch of imagination be 


taken as the prototype of that Mikado to whom we 
were presented in the Town of Titipu, that sublime 
personage and true philanthropist who assured us that 
" a more humane Mikado never did in Japan exist/' 
Nevertheless, it will not have been forgotten how, on the 
occasion of the last revival of the opera at the Savoy, 
the play was temporarily banned on the ground that 
it was likely to give offence to our friends and allies. 

One of the first observations made by Sullivan after 
reading the libretto in the rough, was that he was 
rather surprised to find that the author had not made 
use of any of the distinctive class titles of Old Japan, 
such as, for instance, " The Shoguns." Gilbert's reply 
was : " My dear fellow, I agree with you. Some of those 
names were very funny ; in fact, so ear- tickling as to 
invite excruciating rhymes. But when I found that 
the aristocracy of Old Japan were called " Samurais " 
— I paused. Supposing I wanted to introduce the 
Samurais in verse, the obvious rhyme might have 
seriously offended those good gentlemen who worship 
their ancestors. Moreover, the rhyme would certainly 
have shocked a Savoy audience, unless your music had 
drowned the expression in the usual theatrical way — 
Tympani fortissimo, I think you call it." 

" Ah ! " said Sullivan, " I see your point." 

Through the courtesy of the directors of the Knights- 
bridge Village, a Japanese male dancer and a Japanese 
tea-girl were permitted to give their services to the 
Savoy management. To their invaluable aid in coach* 
ing the company it was mainly due that our acton 


and actresses became, after a few rehearsals, so very 
Japanny. The Japanese dancer was a fairly accom- 
plished linguist. The little gentleman artist was far 
too polite and refined to need any of the rude and 
hasty vernacular common to the impatient British 
stage-manager of the old school. For polished 
adjectives or suitable pronouns he would turn to the 
author, or, it might be, to Mr. John D' Auban, who was, 
as usual, engaged to arrange the incidental dances. 

The Geisha, or Tea-girl, was a charming and very 
able instructress, although she knew only two words 
of English—" Sixpence, please," that being the price of 
a cup of tea as served by her at Knightsbridge. To her 
was committed the task of teaching our ladies Japanese 
deportment, how to walk or run or dance in tiny steps 
with toes turned in, as gracefully as possible ; how to 
spread and snap the fan either in wrath, delight, or 
homage, and how to giggle behind it. The Geisha also 
taught them the art of " make-up," touching the 
features, the eyes, and the hair. Thus to the minutest 
detail the Savoyards were made to look like " the real 
thing." Our Japanese friends often expressed the 
wish that they could become as English in appearance 
as their pupils had become Japanesey. Somebody 
suggested they should try a course of training under 
Richard Barker, who could work wonders. Had not 
he succeeded in making little children assume the atti- 
tude and bearing of adults ? If anybody could trans- 
form a " celestial " into an " occidental," Dick Barker 
was the man. But I don't think the experiment was 
ever tried. 


It was extremely amusing and interesting to witness 
the stage rehearsals, to note the gradual conversion of 
the English to the Japanese. One was sometimes 
inclined to wonder if the Savoyards would retain 
sufficient native instinct adequately to study the 
English music. 

As usual, the ladies proved more apt pupils than the 
men. Most apt of all, perhaps, were the " Three little 
Maids from School," who fell into their stride (if such a 
term can be applied to the mincing step of the East) 
with remarkable readiness, footing their measures as 
though to the manner born. 

One of the most important features of " The Mi- 
kado" production was the costumes. Most of the 
ladies 1 dresses came from the ateliers of Messrs. 
Liberty & Co., and were, of course, of pure Japanese 
fabric. The gentlemen's dresses were designed by 
Mr. C. Wilhelm from Japanese authorities. But some 
of the dresses worn by the principals were genuine 
and original Japanese ones of ancient date ; that in 
which Miss Rosina Brandram appeared as " Katisha" 
was about two hundred years old. The magnificent 
gold- embroidered robe and petticoat of the Mikado 
was a faithful replica of the ancient official costume 
of the Japanese monarch ; the strange-looking curled 
bag at the top of his head was intended to enclose the 
pig- tail. His face, too, was fashioned after the manner 
of the former Mikados, the natural eyebrows being 
shaved off and huge false ones painted on his forehead. 

The hideous masks worn by the Banner-bearers were 
also precise copies of those which used to adorn the 


Mikado's Body-guard. They were intended to frighten 
the foe. Some antique armour had been purchased and 
brought from Japan, but it was found impossible to 
use it, as it was too small for any man above four feet 
five inches, yet, strange to say, it was so heavy that 
the strongest and most muscular man amongst the 
Savoyards would have found it difficult to pace across 
the stage with it on. 

Mystery was always D'Oyly Carte's managerial 
policy. And a wise policy it was, as I shall endeavour 
to explain later on. 

Accordingly, to no one outside the managerial inner 
circle were made known the constructive lines of the 
vessel then on the stocks. Japan was scented, but not 
until the moment of the launch was the name of " The 
Mikado" whispered. It was as profound a cabinet 
secret as that which surrounds the building of a new 
class of cruiser in one of His Majesty's Dockyards. 

And so it came to pass that on March 14th, 1885, in 
the presence of the usual crowded and distinguished 
company, which included T.R.H. The Duke and 
Duchess of Edinburgh, " The Mikado, or The Town 
of Titipu," was presented for the first time by the 
following cast : 

The Mikado of Japan . Mr. R. Temple 

Nanlri-Poo .... Mr. Durward Lely 
(His Son, disguised as a wander- 
ing minstrel, and in love with 
Ko-Ko ♦ Mr, George Grossmith 

(Lord High Executioner of Titipu) 




Pooh-Bah . Mr. Rutland Barrington 

(Lord High Everything Else) 

Go-to Mr. R. Cummings 

Pish-Tush . Mr. Frederick Bovnx 

(A Noble Lord) 
Yum- Yum Miss Leonora Braham 
Pitti-Sing .... Miss Jessie Bond 
Peep-Bo Miss Sybil Grey 

(Three Sisters ; Wards of Ko-Ko) 
Katisha .... Miss Rosina Brandram 

(An elderly Lady, in love with Nanhi-Poo) 
Chorus of School-girls, Nobles, Guards, and Coolies 

Act I. — Court-yard of Ko-Ko's i 

official residence J- Hawes Craven 

Act II.— Ko-Ko's Garden j 

The leading critics were, generally, loud in their 
praise of the new opera ; but, as usual, some of the 
praise was qualified. One expert thought "The 
Mikado " the best of the series of Savoy operas, another 
declared it to be not up to the mark of " The Pinafore/* 
or "The Pirates," or "Iolanthe" — or — well, any 
other. It was a matter of opinion then, as it has re- 
mained ever since. Our greatly revered friend Punch, 
who was seldom anything if not humorous, did not 
always seem to take kindly to the Gilbertian school. 
Perhaps the clever, conservative " Chief of the London 
Charivari" was too old-fashioned fully to appreciate 
the " new humour." Punch seldom descended to 
serious dramatic or musical criticism. It was not the 
policy of his paper. Why should he bore his merry- 
minded readers more than he could help doing ? Being 
himself the oldest established merchant in Funniments 


and Witticisms known to the world, and, withal, the 
very pattern of polished style and refined views of life, 
Punch would never besmudge a column of his brilliant 
periodical by damning anything or anybody, like any 
ordinary press critic. But, as regards the Savoy 
operas, even though he might not like them quite so 
well as he did the old burlesques of the 'sixties, Punch 
could not very well ignore what most of his worthy 
contemporaries were belauding. The dear old hunch- 
back was never exactly bitter, only a wee bit play- 
fully caustic at times. He seemed to enjoy pouting 
his lips at Gilbert and spluttering, " Poo, poo to 
you ! " — just as a jealous schoolboy who thinks him- 
self clever behaves towards another schoolboy in 
a higher class, who has proved himself to be more 

We are reminded of this playful satire whilst re- 
perusing a full-page notice of " The Mikado," which 
appeared in The London Charivari after the first pro- 
duction of the opera. 

Punch, or his representative " Before the curtain," 
starts by devoting a column to theorizing on the 
acknowledged fact that Gilbert and Sullivan at the 
Savoy produced their pieces under conditions which 
few other authors or composers have had the luck 
to meet with ; that they (Gilbert and Sullivan) were 
their own managers, that the theatre was practically 
theirs, that they selected their own company of 
artistes and, in short, that they did just whatever 
they liked — all of which theory suggests that, given 
equally favourable conditions, any other authors or 


composers could have commanded as great success 
as the lucky collaborators of the Savoy. 

But, may not the same argument apply to every line 
of life ? The man who is clever enough and possessed 
of sufficient self-confidence and business acumen can, 
provided he brings the right ware to market, make 
his own conditions. Gilbert and Sullivan, aided by 
D'Oyly Carte, made their own beds, and that they 
proved beds of roses they had chiefly, if not only, 
themselves to thank. 

Then, Punch, after explaining to his own satisfaction, 
or mortification, how the author and composer of " The 
Mikado " had always had " greatness thrust upon 
them," proceeds to note the chief point of humour which 
he had found in the new opera. This was when George 
Grossmith, who, throughout the first Act, had been 
hiding his " understandings " beneath Ko-Ko's petti- 
coats, suddenly, in Act II., gave a kick up and showed 
a pair of white-stockinged legs under the Japanese 

" It was an inspiration/' said the facetious Punch. 
" Forthwith the house felt a strong sense of relief. 
It had got what it wanted, it had found out accidentally 
what it had really missed, and at the first glimpse of 
George Grossmith' s legs there arose a shout of long- 
pent-up laughter. George took the hint ; he too had 
found out where the fault lay, and now he was so 
pleased at the discovery that he couldn' t give them too 
much of a good thing . . . from that time to the end 
of the piece there wasn't a dull minute." 

A very amusing and instructive dramatic criticism 1 


I dare say such a notice was the means of inducing many 
Punchers, and footballers too, probably, to go to the 
Savoy to see George Grossmith kick up his legs. At 
the same time one can hardly dare say that it was 
Ko-Ko's comic spindle-shanks that accounted for 
" The Mikado' 1 running without a stop for 672 days. 
But there ! we all know it was only a well-meaning, 
friendly attempt on dear old Punch's part to out-wit 
Gilbert, and it is only because of the brilliancy of the 
humour that I have ventured thus lengthily to refer to 
the famous chief of Fun-mongers. 

Other leading critics, as I have already acknowledged, 
were generally more kind if less amusing. In fact, the 
London Press could not have given Gilbert and Sulli- 
van's latest opera a warmer or more hearty send-off. 

Not only throughout the provinces, but also in 
America and in Germany, to both which countries 
lyOyly Carte sent complete companies, "The Mi- 
kado's " triumph was equal to that achieved in London 
notwithstanding the absence of George Grossmith 
and his legs. Is it not therefore safe to aver that the 
success of " The Mikado " owed no more to Ko-Ko's 
"shrunk shanks" than to Katisha's "left shoulder- 
blade," that was " a miracle of loveliness which people 
came miles to see ? " 

During the run of "The Mikado" an interesting 
incident of a private nature occurred in connection with 
that opera. Sir Arthur Sullivan entertained the 
Prince of Wales (afterwards Edward VIL), to dinner 
one Sunday, when, to amuse His Royal Highness, a 
private performance of the opera was given at the 


Savoy ; and this, by means of the telephone, was con- 
veyed distinctly to Sir Arthur's private residence. 
And when the Prince, in a speech, thanked the company 
for their efforts, his words were heard on the stage 
of the Savoy Theatre. 




Savoy secrecy — Press reporters eager for news — A Pall Mall Gazette 
squib — Heard in the stalls — Interview with Gilbert — Dr. Louis 
Engel of The World — His advance notice of Sullivan's music 
to forthcoming opera — More rumours concerning new opera — 
Great demand for seats for " Ruddygore " — High society join in 
pit and gallery queues — In New York, tickets for first night sold 
by auction. 

The secrecy of the Savoy management, alluded to 
incidentally in a preceding chapter, became ever more 
and more the text for facetious comment on the 
introduction of each succeeding opera. And so, when 
" The Mikado's " reign drew to a close, inquisitiveness 
ran rampant through the town. Every irresponsible 
scribbler of theatrical topics strove to ferret out the 
plot, the title, and everything else that might possibly 
forestall the production of the new piece. Each scribe 
worked with the zeal and stratagem of a war correspon- 
dent eager to be the first to despatch the latest news 
from the front. 

The smallest scrap of intelligence that leaked out, 
or was supposed to have been confided to some favoured 
member of the fourth estate, was pounced upon by 
the reporters as greedily as hungry sparrows flock down 
upon a crust of bread, each striving to peck and 
carry away a morsel to retail further afield. 



The preliminary press paragraphs which preluded 
the launch of the opera, then on the stocks, afforded 
vast amusement, to say nothing of enlightenment, to 
all behind the mysterious curtain of the Savoy. And 
what bold and cheap advertisement ! what need to 
expend capital on "displayed advertisements 11 at a 
guinea or more the inch per diem in all the leading 
newspapers, when every interested person in the world 
already knew all about the new Gilbert and Sullivan 
opera to be produced on a date foretold by the " Zad- 
kiels " and " Old Moores " in their theatrical calendars ? 
And it was all such good fun too ; and it hurt nobody 
a whit either before or behind the scenes. One or 
two samples of the fusillade of satirical squibs that 
appeared may be worth quoting. For instance, the 
usually staid and sober Pall Mall Gazette devoted half 
a column more or less to a clever illustrated skit 
headed thus : 


" Time— Midnight" 

Here followed a cartoon representing Sullivan and 
Gilbert disguised as conspirators striking melodramatic 
attitudes on the Savoy stage, whilst, peeping timidly 
from behind a piano, appeared the head of D*Oyly 
Carte. Beneath this came the following dialogue : 

Sir Arthur Sullivan : So that's settled — the name 

of our new opera shall be 

Mr. Gilbert : Hush ! we are observed. 


Sir Arthur Sullivan: Allegro, crescendo! Tempo 
di valse ! who's it ? 

Mr. Gilbert : 'Tis the cat : She may have heard all — 
let us dissemble. 

(They dissemble, and mysterious paragraphs 
giving the wrong cognomen of their opera 
appear in the papers.) 

" The audience attendant upon ' The Mikado ' are at 
last beginning to thin, and Messrs. Gilbert and Sullivan 
are rehearsing their new piece with much assiduity. 
The rehearsals commence at 12.30 and are seldom over, 
we believe, before 5 a.m. The greatest secrecy prevails. 
No outsider's presence is allowed in any part of the 
theatre. If but a chink be open in the door in pit, 
boxes, or gallery a warning shout is raised until that 
door is closed; when the performers have occasion 
to accost one another during rehearsal, they do so as 
A. B. and C. So great is the fear of piracy that even 
the actors themselves do not know the name of the 
play, nor the names of the characters they are severally 
engaged to represent." — Theatrical Paragraph, "Pail 
Mall Gazette." 

What amount of truth was contained in the para- 
graph may be gathered from the following letter 
which Mr. Gilbert thought fit to send in reply : 

" To the Editor of the ' Pall Mall Gazette ' 

" Sir, 

" You are pleased to make merry with what 
is supposed to be an exaggerated anxiety on the part 
of Sir Arthur Sullivan and myself, lest the details of 
the opera now in rehearsal at the Savoy should become 


prematurely known to the public. So little has this 
consideration troubled us that we invited to the reading 
of the piece which took place three weeks before the 
first rehearsal no fewer than forty-four ladies and 
gentlemen of the chorus, who are in no way concerned 
with the dialogue, besides a dozen personal friends. 
We have declined to accede to several requests which 
have been made to us to allow the details of the plot 
of the piece to be published in newspapers ; and in 
acting thus we believe we have taken no unusual 
course. It is not customary for dramatic authors in 
this or any other country to publish their plots eight 
weeks before the production of their piece. You say 
that so great is the fear of piracy that even the actors 
themselves do not know the name of the play, nor the 
names of the characters they are severally engaged to 
represent. The name of the play is at present un- 
known to myself, and I shall be much obliged to any one 
who will tell it to me. But the cast is as follows : 

Robin Oakapple . . . Mr. G. Grossmith 

Richard Mr. Durward Lkly 

(His Foster Brother) 
Sir Despard .... Mr. Barrington 

Sir Roderic Mr. R. Temple 

Old Adam .... Mr. Rudolph Lewis 
Rose Maybud . . . Miss Leonora Braham 
Mad Margaret . . . Miss Jessie Bond 
Zorah Miss Findlay 

Act I.— A Seaport Village 

Act II.— A Baronial Hall 

Date — 1810 

" I am, sir, 

" Your obedient servant, 

" W. S. Gilbert/* 


Another wag contributed to a satirical weekly thus : 


" Heard the name of the new piece by Sullivan and 
Gilbert ? " 

" Why, if s " 

" H's-sh ! " 

" I was only going to say it's " 

" H-s'sh ! You mustn't." 

" I was only going to say that if s not known to the 
author " 

" Oh ! 


Which was nearer the truth than the report of the 
Pall Mail Gazette. 

Then Mr. Gilbert had to endure the torture of a pres9 
interview. After severe cross-examination our author 
was driven to plead justification for denying the public, 
whose servants he and his colleagues were, the privilege 
of knowing, in advance, full details of their new work 
yet to be produced. Mr. Gilbert's evidence, as re- 
ported, so fully explains the cause of the managerial 
secrecy, that it may be instructive to quote from The 
Interview — published in the Evening News, a few days 
before the production of the new opera. 


" No," said Mr. W. S. Gilbert, " no one knows the 
name, the plot, the dialogue, nor anything else con- 
nected with my new piece to be produced next Saturday, 
and therefore all ' information ' given in connection 
with it must be mere conjecture. 11 


" I suppose you have had plenty of inquiries about 


" Any number, I assure you. There is scarcely 
a paper either in London or out of it that has not 
sought some kind of intelligence from me about the 
nature of the production ; but, of course, I cannot give 
it. Why should I ? Such a thing is unheard of." 

"Not quite unheard of, Mr. Gilbert. Many thea- 
trical managers and dramatic authors have been 
very pleased to have the opportunity of getting their 
pieces well commented upon before production. You 
see, the public take an exceptional interest in your 

"lam sure I am very much obliged to the public, 
and to you for saying so ; but you see it would be 
most prejudicial to the interests of my colleagues, 
Sir Arthur Sullivan and Mr. D'Oyly Carte, as well as 
to myself, to let any information leak out/ 1 

" How so ? I don't quite understand." 

" Why, I am surrounded at this moment by a lot 
of hungry American newspaper reporters who would 
snap up any little item of news concerning our new 
production, and at once cable it over to their journals, 
and, were we not very discreet, the whole thing would 
find itself over there in a short time and we should be 
defrauded of our copyright " 

" Has such a thing ever happened to you before ? " 

" Most certainly it has. It occurred with ' The 
Mikado/ An American pirate, bit by bit, obtained 
an imitation of the piece, and when he discovered that 
the costumes were to be Japanese he sent to Messrs. 

" (mentioning a well-known firm), " and ordered 

facsimiles — or as near them as possible — of all our 

" What did you do then ? " 

" I had to go to Messrs. and tell them that, if 


they supplied these costumes, I should withdraw all 
the custom of the Savoy Theatre, and I had to buy up 
all that were made. 1 ' 

" Did this put an end to the affair ? " 

" As far as Messrs. were concerned only, but 

the American pirate referred to then went over to 
Paris and tried it on again there, and again I had 
to buy up all the Japanese costumes that were to 
be found. I cannot tell you the amount of trouble 
and expense we have been put to by this kind of 

" I suppose you had often to invoke the aid of the 

" Very frequently indeed I should think we must 
have been concerned in about fifteen or twenty actions. 
Is that not so, Carte ? " said Mr. Gilbert, addressing 
the manager of the Savoy Theatre. 

"A great deal more than that," replied Mr. Carte. 
" If you say between forty and fifty you will be nearer 
the mark." 

" Then I suppose none of the actors and actresses 
themselves are permitted to know anything more 
than is absolutely necessary ? " 

" Not a word ; and I can assure you that even the 
costumes they will wear are not known to them until 
the last moment." 

"When will your new piece be produced in 
America ? " 

" In about three weeks' time after it is produced 
here. The last time we sent a company out to 
America it was with 'The Mikado/ and we were 
compelled to exercise the utmost secrecy. The com- 
pany were taken down in a special train from London 
to Liverpool, from thence transported in a special 
tender on board the steamer, and were sent down 
into their cabins at once and strictly forbidden to hold 


converse with any one until the steamer was well on 

its way." 

" Was all this necessary ? " 

" Absolutely. Even Mr. Carte was obliged to take 
hfc berth in an assumed name, and, thanks to the strict 
vigilance he kept over everybody and everything, not 
a soul knew of the company's departure until days 
afterwards/ ' 

" I suppose you got the best of some one by all this 
stratagem ? " 

" Oh, yes. There was, as usual, a pirate over the 
water, preparing to bring out his version of 'The 
Mikado,' and, indeed, he had advertised its production 
for the Saturday following the Sunday or Monday 
that our company arrived. 

" Of course our unexpected appearance completely 
upset his plans. His production being billed for the 
Saturday, however, we advertised that we would 
produce ours on the Friday previous. He then again 
changed his to the Thursday, upon which ours was 
announced for the Wednesday, and it was actually 
produced on that night and met with a brilliant 


Such was the state of dramatic affairs five- an d- 
twenty years ago. Can it be wondered at that IFOyly 
Carte veiled his managerial concerns in mystery ? 

The first individual outside the official circle of the 
Savoy entrusted with any of the secrets of the new 
opera was the late Dr. Louis Engel, the distinguished 
musical critic of The World, in which journal the 
following interesting preliminary notice appeared just 
ten days before the production of the piece on 
Thursday : 


" With regard to Sullivan's music I may perhaps 
be able to say a little more — inasmuch as I asked 
him to let me see the orchestral score. As he is 

Just now working at it, and would not send it to me, 
. acted like Mahomet, and went to the score. When 
I arrived, there sat Arthur and Tommy hard at work. 
Arthur remained setting and scoring, but Tommy 
jumped up and nearly embraced me. What Tommy ? 
Tommy is Arthur Sullivan's faithful friend and critic 
— one of those impartial friends who are not given to 
praising blindly everything you do ; and so I must 
say there is an air in the new opera which Tommy dis- 
approves to such an extent that, when he hears it 
sung, played, or even whistled, his disapproval is at 
once uttered in a loud bark, or even a prolonged howl, 
for Tommy is a creature as far superior to vile flatterers 
or envious gossipers as a collie dog can be to men. 
Having shaken hands with Tommy and his master, I 
was installed in one of those oriental arm-chairs before 
a large table, and, before I could say a word, a slight 
pressure inundated the room with electric light in all 
colours and I began reading. 

"There is no overture. Perhaps there will be 
though. That the piece is in reality a caricature on the 
old-fashioned melodrama, with the virtuous peasant 

F'rl, the wicked baronet, etc., you may take for granted, 
am not allowed to say what the surprise will be, but 
I will tell you that the wicked baronet has to be wicked, 
in consequence of a curse which compels him to commit 
a crime every day or — to die. Now Grossmith, the 
mild baronet, refuses the title under such conditions, 
and hides himself, leaving Barrington to commit the 
obligatory crimes. He is, however, compelled to take 
his place, and there is a scene between him and the 
gallery of his ancestors, which is one of the most 
original effects on the stage. The predominant colour 


of the music is the old English ; for instance, the first 
opening chorus of the bridesmaids in gavotte time 
(E flat) and the sailor's song d la Dibdin. Then comes 
a hornpipe and a madrigal, a sweetly pretty thing most 
tastefully invented, with a chaste and graceful accom- 
paniment. Mr. Grossmith's second song and the end 
of the two finales belong to the same description. The 
score contains, moreover, a graceful song in waltz time 
for soprano (Leonora Braham), a dramatic legend for 
contralto, most extraordinary and highly amusing 
>atter-trio, a very clever double chorus (you know 
Sullivan's favourite device of uniting two distinct 
subjects), a very tender little duet, a real gem for 
contralto and baritone, various airs and duets; to- 
gether no fewer than twenty-four numbers. 

" One of the principal numbers, the principal, in my 
humble opinion, is the ghost scene above alluded to — 
serious, solid, the treatment of the orchestra and 
chorus producing a most weird and solemn effect. I 
wish to mention a song in three verses, orchestrated in 
three different ways to give emphasis to the words in 
a most vivid manner. What will ' fetch ' the public 
is a duet in the second act between Miss Jessie Bond 
and Mr. Barrington, which you must hear to appreciate 
it, because to describe its quaintness is not easy. 
But if there is much serious music and more counter- 
point than you would look for in a comic opera, there 
is much of a rollicking character, apparently written 
in the exuberance of high spirits. Now you want to 
know which is the air Tommy protests against. This 
he has confided to me in strict privacy, and I have 
shaken paws on keeping the secret ; so you must excuse 


L. E. 

Remarkable were the less authenticated reports 


that found their way into print always " on the best 
authority/ ' One had it that the new opera was to be 
Egyptian, another that the scene was laid in India. 
Every outlandish place on the globe, including Tim- 
buctoo, had been chosen by the author as the locale of 
the play. Somebody had discovered that Miss Jessie 
Bond was cast for an Ophelia part, and that George 
Grossmith was to appear as a ghost ; the conclusion 
was that the piece was to be a Gilbertian travesty of 
" Hamlet/' and so, altogether, no previous production 
had been so loudly heralded and gratuitously boomed 
as was " Ruddygore, or the Witch's Curse." Con- 
sequently, the demand for seats on the opening night 
was unprecedented, and much heartburn was felt 
by hundreds of Savoy-lovers on discovering they 
were not " on the list " of fortunate ticket-holders. 
Enthusiasts who boasted they had never missed a 
first night of any Gilbert and Sullivan opera, and 
who vowed they never would be excluded, took up 
positions outside the theatre in the early hours of 
the eventful day. Men and women of social rank, 
who on ordinary occasions were accustomed to dawdle 
leisurely into their stalls, now took their places in 
the queue with the professional first-nighters of pit 
and gallery, caring not which door they entered, so 
long as they could get inside the theatre and be 
able to say they had been there. Hours before the 
doors were opened every access to the Savoy, north- 
wards from the Strand and southwards from the 
Thames Embankment, was packed with a mass of 

fevered humanity. Never before since the opening of 


the Savoy Theatre had such a scene been witnessed. 
According to accounts cabled from New York some 
three weeks later, notwithstanding the report that 
" Ruddygore " was a failure in London, a similar scene 
was enacted outside the Fifth Avenue Theatre on the 
opening night of the opera. The demand for seats 
in America had been so great that tickets for the 
premhte were sold by auction and fetched fabulous 
prices. Such was the pitch of fame to which Gilbert 
and Sullivan had attained. 



Distinguished audience on first night — Reason why " Ruddygore " has 
not been revived — Enormous outlay — " Ruddygore " not univer- 
sally approved — " Boos " — Were they intended for the opera or 
for Lord Randolph Churchill, who was conspicuous in the stalls ? — 
" Ruddygore " a skit on Transpontine melodrama — Gilbert's 
humour misunderstood — Offence given to both English and French 
Navy men — Gilbert challenged to duel — " Ruddygore " becomes 
"Ruddtgore" — Sullivan's music greatly praised — Gilbert's re- 
marks about " Ruddigore " in speech made at dinner of O.P, Club. 

"The Mikado" having been withdrawn from the 
Savoy on January 19th, 1887, after an uninterrupted 
run of 672 performances, three nights later, that is to 
say, Saturday, January 22nd, 1887, witnessed the 
production of the eighth conjoint opera of Gilbert and 
Sullivan. Its title was the gruesome one of — 



Dramatis Personae 


Robin Oakapple Mr. George Grossmith 

(A Young Farmer) 
Richard Dauntless . Mr. Durward Lely 

(His Foster Brother— Maiw> y -war y s-man) 




Sir Despard Murgatroyd (Of 
"Ruddygore) Mr. Rutland Barrington 

(A Wicked Baronet) 
Old Adam Goodheart Mil Rudolph Lewis 

(Robin's Faithful Servant) 

Miss Leonora Braham 

Miss Jessie Bond 
Miss Rosini Brandram 

Miss Josephine Findlay 
Miss Lindsay 

Rose Maybud . 

(A Village Maiden) 
Mad Margaret 
Dame Hannah . 

(Rose's Aunt) 
Zorah .... 
Ruth .... 

(Professional Bridesmaids) 

Sir Rupert Murgatroyd 

(The First Baronet) 
Sir Jasper Murgatroyd 

(The Third Baronet) 
Sir Lionel Murgatroyd 

(The Sixth Baronet) 
Sir Conrad Murgatroyd 

(The Twelfth Baronet) 
Sir Desmond Murgatroyd . 

(The Sixteenth Baronet) 
Sir Gilbert Murgatroyd 

(The Eighteenth Baronet) 
Sir Mervyn Murgatroyd 

(The Twentieth Baronet) 

Sir Roderic Murgatroyd 

(The Twenty-first Baronet) 

Chorus of Officers, Ancestors, and Professional Bridesmaids 

Act I. — The Fishing Village of Rederring, in Cornwall 

Act II. — Picture-gallery in Ruddygore Castle 
The Scenery by Mr. Hawes Craven (by permission of 
Mr, H. Irving), The Military Uniform by Mes&s. Cater 

Mr. Price 

Mr. Charles 

Mr. Trevor 

Mr. Burbank 

. Mr. Tuer 

Mr. Wilbraham 

Mr. Cox 

Mr. Richard Temple 


& Co., from designs supplied by the Fine Art Gallery, 61, 
Pall Mall. The Ancestors by Mdme August e, from de- 
signs by Wilhelm. The ladies' dresses by Mdme Auguste. 
The incidental dances by Mr. John D'Auban. 

Time.— Early in the Present Century 

The auditorium presented all the familiar features 
of a Savoy premiere : all the world of literature, 
science, art, politics, the law and Society, or as many 
of its representatives as could be crowded in, filled the 
stalls. Conspicuous in the centre were recognized 
Lord and Lady Randolph Churchill. The renowned 
statesman met with a mixed reception from the 
"gods" in recognition of the recent revolution in 
his political convictions. Close behind him sat Mr. 
Labouchere, who, during the interval, accompanied the 
Ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer to the smoking-room, 
where, over a cigarette, they engaged in debate on some 
subject even more serious than a Gilbert and Sullivan 

Lord and Lady Onslow and Lord Dunraven were 
present, with other peers as plentiful if not as ornate 
as those who had assembled on the other side the foot- 
lights in the days of "Iolanthe." Legal luminaries 
included Sir Charles Russell, Mr. Montague Williams, 
Mr. Inderwick, Mr. W. J. Maclean, and Mr. (afterwards 
Sir George) Lewis. The Royal Academy was repre- 
sented by Sir Frederick Leighton, Sir John Millais, 
Mr. Marcus Stone, Mr. Frank Holl, Mr. Whistler, Mr. 
Linley Sambourne, and a host of other artists who had 
eome specially to review the Great Picture-gallery of 
Ruddigore Castle with Hawes Craven's wondrous 


sized stages of the provincial theatres by the D'Oyly 
Carte Touring Company. Whether or no ' ' Ruddigore ' ' 
will ever be reproduced in London remains on the 
knees of the gods. It is, indeed, a thousand pities 
that Sullivan's score, containing some of his most 
charming music, should be buried away in the cellar, 
when it might assuredly bring new joy to the present 
generation of music-lovers who have never heard it. 

But now we may be asked, "Was 'Ruddigore' a 
success ? " Our reply, as far as regards the music, is, 
"Yes — emphatically — yes. M Never before was the 
Press more prodigal in its praise, or the public louder in 
its acclamation of Sullivan's workmanship. Probably 
the consensus of opinion was that, on the whole, 
"Ruddigore" contained more brilliant gems of melody 
set in delightful orchestration, with broader contrasts 
of grace and humour, than any previous Savoy opera. 

If we turn to the book it would be idle to deny 
that the favour bestowed upon it was more qualified 
than the author had become accustomed to. Candidly, 
it is not altogether an agreeable reminiscence, but one 
cannot forget certain discordant, unfamiliar sounds 
that were only half-drowned in the flood of applause 
following curtain-fall. For the first time within the 
walls of the Savoy was heard the brutal " Boo I " of 
the unmannerly malcontent. It was such a novel 
experience that all the battalions of Savoyards won- 
dered. By some kind sympathizers it was suggested 
that the contemptuous cries were not intended for the 
authors or the actors or the management, but rather for 
Lord Randolph Churchill, who chanced to be quitting 


the stalls at the moment Gilbert, Sullivan, and Carte 
were taking their " call " ; but such a notion was 
nothing but the " precious nonsense " of too flattering 
Savoy-lovers. Glad as we all might have been to 
accept such consoling apology, it was only too obvious 
that, from some cause or another, " Ruddigore " had 
failed to convince as spontaneously as its predecessors 
had done. And what was the cause of the disaffection ? 
The first act was accompanied throughout by the wild 
fire of applause and delight customary at the Savoy ; 
everybody was called and recalled. But after that it 
seemed as though Gilbert's muse had played truant 
or grown dull and apathetic, or satiated with past suc- 
cesses, or, in other words, that his train of thought had 
been switched on to the wrong line and come to grief, 
though certainly not to fatal disaster. 

Sir William acknowledged " Ruddigore" to be a 
caricature of what used to be known as Transpontine 
melodrama — a term signifying plays produced at 
the Surrey, the Vic, and other theatres on the south 
side of the Thames. 

Those blood-curdling melodramas were of themselves 
extravaganzas of real life, unintentional satires on the 
virtues and vices of men and women. The question 
then arises how far may the travesty of an extrava- 
ganza be carried with impunity ? Humour, if stretched 
too far, outwits itself. It becomes flat, stale, and un- 
profitable. Seldom has humour been more elastic 
than that bred by Gilbert's genius, and hardly ever was 
the gifted author found extending his points beyond 
the limits of reason and sound sense. But Gilbert's 


fault, if fault it can be called, lay rather in the subtlety 
of his brain. His wit at times sprang up from wells 
too deep for the ordinary mind to fathom. Here is a 
very striking instance in support of this theory, and, 
at the same time, of the density of some people's sense 
of humour. Will it be credited that the jolly, breezy 
sailor's song in " Ruddigore," the words of which shall 
be quoted below when we tell the story of the play, 
not only offended a few dull-pated British patriots who 
construed it as a slight on our Navy, but, worse to relate, 
threatened to disturb our friendly relations with France, 
simply because a Frenchman, the correspondent of the 
Paris Figaro, a journalist hitherto respected for his 
broad-minded views of British affairs, lacked the sense 
of humour. This person saw in Gilbert's harmless 
jeu d* esprit an insult to the French nation ; though 
the matter escaped becoming an international affair, 
it was whispered that Gilbert had received a challenge 
from several French officers to meet him ; but it ended 
in coffee and cigars. 

Thus poor Sir William, fondly dreaming that his 
mirthful ditty, d la Dibdin, would be greeted with 
nothing but smiles, found himself between cross-fires 
from either side the English Channel. One may ques- 
tion whether, if that same song were revived in these 
more reasonable days, it would shock our Navy League 
or disturb V entente cordials. Methinks it would, rather, 
be accepted by all parties as a good joke. 

Another negative notion that helped to prejudice 
the success of the piece was its title, " Ruddygore." 
Some prudish parents would not think of taking their 



daughters to see a play with a name like that : never 
— no — never, even though it had been set to music 
by dear Sir Arthur Sullivan, who composed "The 
Golden Legend," "The Martyr of Antioch," " Onward, 
Christian Soldiers/' and that lovely song " The Absent- 
minded Beggar." " How ever could Sir Arthur have 
dared to countenance such a name ? " " ' Ruddygore ' I 
Didn't it suggest Portsmouth Hard or the East India 
Docks ? " 

Those dear, good, refined, squeamish people were 
terribly shocked ! As for Sir William Gilbert — offering 
his other cheek to the smiters, he strove to pacify them 
by changing the title so far as to substitute the letter 
I for Y. 

Further, Gilbert made certain slight alterations in 
the second act, after which the cry went forth from 
the Press, " All's well with ' Ruddigore.' " 

Granted that the book of " Ruddigore " was not one 
of Gilbert's masterpieces, yet, seeing the opera ran for 
288 performances (excelling " The Sorcerer " by 113 
and " Princess Ida" by 42), the opera could hardly be 
pronounced a failure. 

On this question Sir William Gilbert had something 
to say in a speech made by him at the O.P. Club's 
"Savoyard Celebration" Dinner organized by Mr. 
Carl Hentschel, the founder of the club. The enter- 
tainment took place at the Hotel Cecil on December 
30th, 1906, when 450 play-goers assembled to do honour 
to the distinguished author and the members past and 
present of the Savoy company. 

This is what Gilbert spoke : 


"We were credited or discredited with one con- 
spicuous failure — c Ruddigore, or the Witch's Curse/ 
Well, it ran eight months, and, with the sale of the 
libretto, put £7,000 into my pocket. It was not 
generally known that, bending before the storm of 
press execration aroused by the awful title, we were 
within an ace of changing it from ' Ruddigore ' to 
* Kensington Gore, or Robin and Richard were two 
Pretty Men.' " 


The story of " Ruddigore, or the Witch's Curse " — Superb mounting 
— The acting — Jessie Bond and Durward Lely. 

Among readers of this volume there may be many 
who, never having witnessed the performance of 
" Ruddigore," would like to hear what it was all about. 
For their enlightenment, therefore, let me endeavour to 
tell, as briefly as I may, in outline, aided by extracts 
from the author's witty dialogue and sparkling lyrics, 
the remarkable legend of " The Witch's Curse." 

Adjacent to the Cornish village of Rederring there 
stood, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, 
the Castle of Ruddigore, the ancestral home of the 
wicked race of Murgatroyd. The legend attached to 
the place is, early in the play, told in song by " Old 
Hannah" to a crowd of village lassies, charming 
maidens who, in hope of the wedding of Rose the belle 
of Rederring, 

" Every day as the years roll on 
Bridesmaid's costumes gaily don." 

To them Dame Hannah speaks thus : 

Han. Many years ago I was betrothed to a god-like 
youth who wooed me under an assumed name. But, 

on the very day upon which our wedding was tP bave 


been celebrated, I discovered that he was no other 
than Sir Roderic Murgatroyd, one of the bad Baronets 
of Ruddygore, and the uncle of the man who now 
bears that title. As a son of that accursed race he was 
no husband for an honest girl, so, madly as I loved him, 
I left him then and there. He died but ten years since, 
but I never saw him again. 

Zor. But why should you not marry a bad Baronet 
of Ruddygore ? 

Ruth. All baronets are bad ; but was he worse than 
other baronets ? 

Han. My child, he was accursed ! 

Zor. But who cursed him ? Not you, I trust ! 

Han. The curse is on all his line, and has been, ever 
since the time of Sir Rupert, the first Baronet. Listen, 
and you shall hear the legend. 


" Sir Rupert Muigatroyd 
His leisure and his riches 
He ruthlessly employed 

In persecuting witches. 
With fear he'd make them quake, 
He'd duck them in the lake — 
He'd break their bones 
With sticks and stones, 
And burn them at the stake 1 


Once, on the village green, 

A palsied hag he roasted, 
And what took place, I ween. 

Shook his composure boasted ; 
For, as the torture grim 
Seized on each withered limb, 
The writhing dame 
'Mid fire and flame 
Yelled forth this curse on him : 


" ' Each lord of Ruddygore, 
Despite his best endeavour, 
Shall do one crime, or more, 
Once, every day, for ever ! 
This doom he can't defy 
However he may try. 
For should he stay 
His hand, that day 
In torture he shall die ! ' 

" The prophecy came true : 
Each heir who held the title 
Had, every day, to do 

Some crime of import vital ; 
Until, with guilt o'erplied, 
' I'll sin no more 1 ' he cried, 
And on the day 
He said that say, 
In agony he died I 


" And thus, with sinning cloyed, 
Has died each Murgatroyd, 

And so shall fall, 

Both one and all, 
Each coming Murgatroyd ! " 

In dread of becoming the subject of the witch's curse, 
young Ruthven Murgatroyd, heir to the Baronetcy, 
flies from his ancestral home, and, assuming the 
character of a country yokel, by the name of Robin 
Oakapple, takes up his abode in Rederring. There he 
falls in love with Rose, Dame Hannah's niece. But 
he is too shy and fearful of consequences to confess 
his devotion. Timely, to the village comes Richard 


Dauntless, Ruthven's foster brother. To the villagers 
the gallant man-o'-war'sman relates in song the voyage 
of The Tom Tit. This is the lyric which gave great 
offence to certain over-sensitive people, specified in the 
last chapter. 

Ballad. — Richard 


I shipped, d'ye see, in a Revenue sloop, 
And, ofi Cape Finistere, 
A merchantman we see, 
A Frenchman, going free. 
So we made for the bold Mounseer, 

D'ye see ? 
We made for the bold Mounseer. 

" But she proved to be a Frigate — and she up with her ports, 
And fires with a thirty-two ! 
It come uncommon near, 
But we answered with a cheer, 
Which paralysed the Parly- voo, 

D'ye see ? 
Which paralysed the Parly- voo I 


Then our Captain he up and he says, says he, 
1 That chap we need not fear ; 
We can take her, if we like, 
She is sartin for to strike, 
For she's only a darned Mounseer, 

D'ye see ? 
She's only a darned Mounseer ! 

" ' But to fight a French fal-lal— it's like hit tin 1 of a gal, 
Its a lubberly thing for to do ; 

For we, with all our faults, 
Why, weVe stjirdy ftitjsh *alts, 



While she's only a Parley-voo 

D'ye see ? 
A miserable Parley-voo ! ' 

So we up with our helm, and we scads before the breeze 
As we give a compassionating cheer ; 
Froggee answers with a shout 
As he sees us go about, 
Which was grateful of the poor Mounseer, 

D'ye see ? 
Which was grateful of the poor Mounseer ! 

" And I'll wager in their joy they kissed each other's cheek 
(Which is what them furriners do), 
And they blessed their lucky stars 
We were hardy British tars 
Who had pity on a poor Parley-voo, 

D'ye see ? 
Who had pity on a poor Parley-voo ! 


Robin tells his foster-brother of his shy and hopeless 
love, whereupon the sailor promises to assist him to 
gain Rose for a wife. 

" Robin/' says Richard, " do you call to mind how, 
years ago, we swore that, come what be, we would 
always act upon our heart's dictates — well, now, what 
does my heart say in this 'ere difficult situation ? Why, 
it says, ' Dick/ it says (it calls me Dick acos it's known 
me from a baby), 'Dick/ it says, 'you ain't shy — 
you ain't modest — speak you up for him as is ' — Robin, 
my lad, just you lay me 'longside, and when she's 
becalmed under my lee, I'll spin her a yarn that will 
sarve to fish you two together." 



The song that Robin then sings contains lines which 
have since become proverbial all the world over : 

" If you wish in the world to advance, 
Your merits you're bound to enhance — 
You must stir it and stump it 
And blow your own trumpet, 
Or, trust me, you haven't a chance." 

Richard then meets Rose Maybud, and at once proves 
false to Robin. Following his own heart's dictates, 
he falls in love at first sight with the damsel. Surely 
a more quaint, unconventional courting scene was 
never witnessed on or off the stage. Rose, it must be 
explained, carries about with her wherever she goes a 
little book of Etiquette, composed, she believes, by 
no less an authoress than the wife of the Lord Mayor. 

" It has been," says Rose, " through life my guide 
and monitor. By its solemn precepts I have learnt to 
test the moral worth of all who approach me. The 
man who bites his bread or eats his peas with a knife 
I look upon as a lost creature, and he who has not 
acquired the proper way of entering and leaving a room 
is the object of my pitying horrors " — and so on. 

Thus, when the precise little Cornish maid is inter- 
viewed by Richard she is prompted by the Book of 
Etiquette, whilst the sailor steers his moral course by 
the compass of his heart's dictates. 

The love scene is so humorous I cannot refrain from 
quoting it in extenso : 

Rich. Here she comes! Steady 1 Steady it is I 
(Enter Rose) — he is much struck bv her). By the 


Port Admiral, but she's a tight little craft ! Come, 
come, she's not for you, Dick, and yet — she's fit to 
marry Lord Nelson ! By the flag of old England, I 
can't look at her unmoved. 

Rose. Sir, you are agitated 

Rich. Aye, aye, my lass, well said ! I am agitated, 
true enough ! — took flat aback, my girl, but 'tis naught 
— 'twill pass. (Aside.) This here heart of mine's a 
dictatin' to me like anythink. Question is, have I 
a right to disregard its promptings ? 

Rose. Can I do ought to relieve thine anguish, for 
it seemeth to me that thou art in sore trouble ? This 
apple — (Offering a damaged apple). 

Rich. (Looking at it and returning it). No, my lass, 
'taint that ; I'm — I'm took flat aback — I never see 
anything like you in all my born days. Parbuckle me, 
if you ain't the loveliest gal I've ever set eyes on. 
There — I can't say fairer than that, can I ? 

Rose. No. (Aside). The question is, is it meet that 
an utter stranger should thus express himself ? (Refers 
to book). Yes — " Always speak the truth." 

Rich. I'd no thoughts of sayin' this here to you on 
my own account, for, truth to tell, I was chartered by 
another ; but when I see you my heart it up and it 
says, says it, " This is the very lass for you, Dick — 
speak up to her, Dick," it says-^-(# calls me Dick 
acos we was at school together) — " tell her all, Dick," 
it says, " never sail under false colours — it's mean ! " 
Thais what my heart tells me to say, and in my rough, 
common-sailor fashion I've said it, and I'm a- waiting 
for your reply. I'm a tremblin' , miss. Lookye here — 
(Holding out his hand.) That's narvousness ! 

Rose. (Aside.) Now, how should a maiden deal 
with such an one ? (Consults book.) " Keep no one in 
unnecessary suspense." (Aloud.) Behold, I will not 
keep you m unnecessary suspense. (Refers to book.) 


" In accepting an offer of marriage, do so with ap- 
parent hesitation/ 9 (Aloud.) I take you, but with 
a certain show of reluctance. (Refers to book.) " Avoid 
any appearance of eagerness. 1 ' (Aloud.) Though you 
will bear in mind that I am far from anxious to do so. 
(Refers to booh.) " A little show of emotion will not 
be misplaced ! " (Aloud.) Pardon this tear t (Wipes 
her eye.) 

Rich. Rose, you've made me the happiest blue- 
jacket in England ! I wouldn't change places with the 
Admiral of the Fleet, no matter who he's a huggin' 
of at this present moment ! But, axin' your pardon, 
miss (wiping his lips with his hand), might I be per- 
mitted to salute the flag I'm a-goin' to sail under ? 

Rose. (Referring to book.) " An engaged young 
lady should not permit too many familiarities." 
(Aloud.) Once ! (Richard kisses her.) 

The lovers are disturbed by the entrance of Robin, 
who learns the truth from Dick, whilst, much dis- 
appointed, he treats the matter with platonic uncon- 
cern. Broken-hearted as he is, Robin considers his 
friend has acted quite fairly in following his heart's 

Rose, Richard, and Robin then join in a very charm- 
ing trio, the refrain of which is : 

" In sailing o'er life's ocean wide. 
No doubt the heart should be our guide ; 
But it is awkward when you find 
A heart that does not know its mind." 

At the end of this Rose turns away from Richard and 
embraces Robin. They disperse — Richard weeping. 


, To the village there comes Mad Margaret — a char- 
acter modelled after the pattern of Ophelia. She has 
been the victim of one of the crimes perpetrated by 
Sir Despard, obedient to the curse. The poor dis- 
traught maiden is seeking for her faithless lover. The 
very sweet, pathetic ballad here sung by Mad Margaret 
may be ranked amongst Gilbert and Sullivan's brightest 

" To a garden full of posies 

Cometh one to gather flowers, 
And he wanders through its bowers 

Toying with the wanton roses, 
Who, uprising from their beds, 
Hold on high their shameless heads 

With their pretty lips a-pouting, 

Never doubting — never doubting 

That for Cytherean posies 
He would gather aught but roses I 

" In a nest of weeds and nettles 

Lay a violet, half-hidden, 

Hoping that his glance unbidden 
Yet might fall upon her petals. 

Though she lived alone, apart, 

Hope lay nestling at her heart ; 
But, alas! the cruel awaking 
Set her little heart a-breaking, 

For he gathered for his posies 
Only roses — only roses ! " 

(Bursts into (ears.) 

Soon upon the scene enters Sir Despard, accom- 
panied by a party of Bucks and Blades. They are all 
dressed in the gorgeous uniforms of military officers 


of the period — correct to the last button. The girls 
of the village express their horror of the bold, bad 
baronet. As he approaches them they fly from him 
terror-stricken, leaving him alone to moralize thus : 

Sir D. Poor children, how they loathe me — me whose 
hands are certainly steeped in infamy, but whose heart 
is as the heart of a little child ! But what is a poor 
baronet to do, when a whole picture-gallery of ancestors 
step down from their frames and threaten him with an 
excruciating death if he hesitate to commit his daily 
crime ? But ha ! ha ! I am even with them ! 
(Mysteriously.) I get my crime over the first thing 
in the morning, and then, ha ! ha ! for the rest of the 
day I do good — I do good — I do good ! (Melodramatic- 
ally.) Two days since, I stole a child and built an 
orphan asylum. Yesterday I robbed a bank and en- 
dowed a bishopric. To-day I carry off Rose Maybud, 
and atone with a cathedral ! This is what it is to be 
the sport and toy of a Picture-gallery ! But I will 
be bitterly revenged upon them ! I will give them all 
to the Nation, and nobody shall ever look upon their 
faces again ! 

Richard Dauntless then approaches and makes 
known to Sir Despard that his elder brother Ruthven 

Sir D. Ruthven alive, and going to marry Rose 
Maybud ! Can this be possible ? 

Rich. Now the question I was going to ask your 
honour is — ought I to tell your honour this ? This is 
what my heart says. It says, " Dick/' it says (it calls 
me Dick acos it's entitled to take that liberty.) " That 


there young gal would recoil from him if she knowed 
what he really were. Ought you to stand off and on, 
and let this young gal take this false step and never 
fire a shot across her bows to bring her to ? No, it 
says, "you did not ought." And I won't ought, 

Sir D. Then you really feel yourself at liberty to 
tell me that my elder brother lives — that I may charge 
him with his cruel deceit, and transfer to his shoulders 
the hideous thraldom under which I have laboured for 
so many years ! Free — free at last ! Free to live a 
blameless life, and to die beloved and regretted by all 
who knew me ! 

Robin Oakapple and Rose Maybud, who are about 
to marry, then arrive to find their promised bliss 
suddenly blighted by Sir Despard. 

Sir D. Hold, Bride and Bridegroom, ere you wed 

each other 

I claim young Robin as my elder brother. 
Robin. (Aside.) Ah ! lost one ! 
SirD. His rightful title I have long enjoy" d, 

I claim him as Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd. 

Thus at last Sir Ruthven is saddled with the witch's 
curse from which he had striven to escape. 

In the picture-gallery of Ruddigore Castle, the walls 
of which are covered with full-length portraits of the 
baronets of Ruddigore from the times of James I., 
the unhappy Robin, now Sir Ruthven Murgatroyd, 
discusses the terrible situation with old Adam, alias 
Gideon Crawle, the faithful but wicked family 


Robin. This is a painful state of things, Gideon 
Crawle 1 

Adam. Painful, indeed 1 Ah, my poor master, 
when I swore that, come what would, I would serve you 
in all things for ever, I little thought to what a pass 
it would bring me ! The confidential adviser to the 
greatest villain unhung ! If s a dreadful position for a 
good old man I 

Robin. Very likely, but don't be gratuitously offen- 
sive, Gideon Crawle. 

Adam. Sir, I am the ready instrument of your 
abominable misdeeds because I nave sworn to obey yotk 
in all things, but I have not sworn to allow deliberate 
and systematic villainy to pass unreproved. If you 
insist upon it I will swear that, too, but I have not 
sworn it yet. Now, sir, to business. What crime do 
you propose to commit to-day ? 

Rob. How should I know? As my confidential 
adviser, it's your duty to suggest something. 

Adam. Sir, I loathe the life you are leading, but a 
good old man' s oath is paramount, and I obey. Richard 
Dauntless is here with pretty Rose Maybud, to ask 
your consent to their marriage. Poison their beer. 

Rob. No — not that — I know I'm a bad Bart, but 
I'm not as bad a Bart as all that. 

Adam. Well, there you are, you see ! If s no use my 
making suggestions if you don't adopt them. 

Rob. (Melodramatically.) How would it be, do you 
think, were I to lure him here with cunning wile — bind 
him with good stout rope to yonder post — and then, 
by making hideous faces at him, curdle the heart-blood 
in his arteries, and freeze the very marrow in his 
bones ? How say you, Gideon, is not the scheme well 
planned ? 

Adam. It would be simply rude — nothing more. 
But soft — they come ! 


Richard and Rose enter, and are promptly condemned 
by Sir Ruthven to be immured in " an uncomfortable 
dungeon/' This fell design is frustrated by Richard, 
who came prepared for this. Unfurling a Union Jack, 
he waves it triumphantly over Rose Maybud's head, 
exclaiming, " The man does not live who would dare 
to lay unlicensed hand upon her." 

" Foiled," cried Sir Ruthven. " Foiled— and by a 
Union Jack I but a time will come, and then " 

Rose then pleads. " Sir Ruthven, have pity. In 
my book of Etiquette the case of a maiden about to 
be wedded to one who unexpectedly turns out to be a 
baronet with a curse on him is not considered. It is 
a comprehensive work, but it is not as comprehensive 
as that. Time was when you loved me madly. Prove 
that this was no selfish love by according your consent 
to my marriage with one who, if he be not you yourself, 
is the next best thing — your dearest friend — 

Robin, or rather Sir Ruthven, relents. 

Left alone he soliloquizes thus : 

Rob. For a week I have fulfilled my accursed doom I 
I have duly committed a crime a day ! Not a great 
crime, I trust ; but still, in the eyes of one as strictly 
regulated as I used to be, a crime. But will my ghostly 
ancestors be satisfied with what I have done, or will 
they regard it as an unworthy subterfuge ? (Addressing 
pictures.) Oh, my forefathers, wallowers in blood, 
there came at last a day when, sick of crime, you, each 
and every, vowed to sin no more, and so, in agony, 
called welcome Death to free you from your cloying 
guiltiness. Let the sweet psalm of that repentant 



hour soften your long-dead hearts, and tune your souls 
to mercy on your poor posterity 1 (Kneeling.) 

(The stage darkens for a moment. It becomes 

light again, and the pictures are seen to 

have become animated.) 

The spectre of Sir Roderic (Sir Ruthven's uncle, 
who, during life had been betrothed to Old Hannah, 
Rose Maybud's aunt), rises in the midst of the other 
baronets. In sepulchral tone Sir Roderic sings : 


When the night-wind howls in the chimney-cowls and the bat in 

the moonlight flies, 
And inky clouds, like funeral shrouds, sail over the midnight 

When the footpads quail at the night-bird's wail, and black dogs 

bay the moon, 
Then is the spectre's holiday — then is the ghost's high noon 1 

" Ha ! ha ! 
The dead of the night's high noon I 

" As the sob of the breeze sweeps over the trees and tne mists lie 

low on the fen, 
From grey tomb-stones are gathered the bones that once were 

women and men. 
And away they go, with a mop and a mow, to the revel that ends 

too soon, 
For cockcrow limits our holiday— the dead of the night's high 

noon ! 

" Ha ! ha ! 
The dead of the night's high noon ! 


" And then each ghost with his ladye-toast to their churchyard 

beds takes flight. 
With a kiss, perhaps, on her lantern chaps, and a grisly, grim 

1 Good-night ' ; 
Till the welcome knell of the midnight bell rings forth its jolliest 

And ushers our next high holiday-— the dead of the night's high 

noon ! 

"Hal ha! 
The dead of the night's high noon ! " 

Sir Ruthven, addressing his ancestors, says : " And 
may I ask you why you left your frames ? " 

Sir Rod. It is our duty to see that our successors 
commit their daily crimes in a conscientious and 
workmanlike fashion. It is our duty to remind you 
that you are evading the conditions under which you 
are permitted to exist. 

Rob. Really, I don't know what you'd have, I've 
only been a bad baronet a week, and I've committed 
a crime punctually every day. 

Sir Rod. Let us inquire into this. Monday ? 

Rob. Monday was a Bank Holiday. 

Sir Rod. True. Tuesday? 

Rob. On Tuesday I made a false income-tax return. 

All. Ha! ha! 

ist Ghost. That's nothing. 

2ND Ghost. Nothing at all. 

3RD Ghost. Everybody does that. 

4TH Ghost. It's expected of you. 

Sir Rod. Wednesday ? 

Rob. (Melodramatically.) On Wednesday I forged 
a will. 

Sir Rod. Whose will ? 


Rob. My own. 

Sir Rod. My good sir, you can't forge your own 

Rob. Can't I, though ! I like that! I did I Besides, 
if a man can't forge his own will, whose will can lie 
forge ? 

ist Ghost. There's something in that. 

2nd Ghost. Yes, it seems reasonable. 

3RD Ghost. At first sight it does. 

4TH Ghost. Fallacy somewhere, I fancy ! 

Rob. A man can do what he likes with his own. 

Sir Rod. I suppose he can. 

Rob. Well, then, he can forge his own will, stoopid I 
On Thursday I shot a fox. 

ist Ghost. Hear, hear ! 

Sir Rod. That's better (Addressing ghosts.) Pass 
the fox, I think ? (They assent.) Yes, pass the fox. 
Friday ? 

Rob. On Friday I forged a cheque. 

Sir Rod. Whose cheque ? 

Rob. Gideon Crawle's. 

Sir Rod. But Gideon Crawle hasn't a banker. 

Rob. I didn't say I forged his banker — I said I 
forged his cheque. 

ist Ghost. That's true. 

2ND Ghost. Yes, it seems reasonable. 

3RD Ghost. At first glance it does. 

4TH Ghost. Fallacy somewhere ! 

kob. On Saturday I disinherited my only son. 

Sir Rod. But you haven't got a son. 

Rob. No, not yet — I disinherited him in advance, to 
save time — you see, by this arrangement — he'll be born 

Sir Rod. I see. But I don't think you can do that. 

Rob. My good sir, if I can't disinherit my own un- 
born son, whose unborn son can I disinherit ? 


But Sir Roderic and his companion spectres are not 
convinced that their descendant has done his duty by 
the curse satisfactorily, and command him to atone 
for his shortcomings by carrying off a lady. If he 
declines he will perish in inconceivable agonies. Sir 
Ruthven replies that he could not do such a wicked 
thing as that — whereupon the ghosts torture him 
until he consents and apologizes. 

Sir Ruthven then orders old Adam to go to the village, 
carry away and bring to the castle a lady. 

Whilst the wicked steward is absent, Sir Despard 
and Mad Margaret arrive. The erstwhile crime- 
compelled baronet is now a sort of Methodist preacher, 
and Margaret, restored to sanity, is a teacher in a 
National school. After an amusing duet and dance 
they depart. Old Adam returns bringing with him, 
captive, Dame Hannah. The ghost of Sir Roderic 
again comes to earth and recognizes in the Dame his 
old love of long ago. 

An eccentric love-scene between Sir Roderic and 
Dame Hannah, ending in the following charming ballad : 


There grew a little flower 

'Neath a great oak-tree : 
When the tempest 'gan to lower 

Little heeded she : 
No need had she to cower, 
For she dreaded not its power — 
She was happy in the bower 
Of her great oak-tree I 
Sing hey, 
Let the tears fall free 
For the pretty little flower and the great oak-tree 1 



" Sing hey. 
Lackaday, etc. 

" When she found that he was fickle, 
Was that great oak-tree. 
She was in a pretty pickle, 

As she well might be — 
But his gallantries were mickle. 
For Death followed with his sickle. 
And her tears began to trickle 
For her great oak-tree ! 
Sing hey, 
Lackaday ! etc. 

" Said she, ' He loved me never. 
Did that great oak-tree. 
But I'm neither rich nor clever, 

And so why should he ? 
But though fate our fortunes sever, 
To be constant Til endeavour, 
Aye, for ever and for ever. 
To my great oak-tree ! ' 
Sing hey, 
Lackaday! etc" 

(Falls weeping on Rodericks bosom.) 
(Enter Robin excitedly, followed by Bridesmaids.) 

Rob. Stop a bit — both of you. 

Rod. This intrusion is unmannerly. 

Han. I'm surprised at you* 

Rob. I can't stop to apologize — an idea has just 
occurred to me. A baronet of Kuddigore can only die 
through refusing to commit his daily crime. 

Rod. No doubt. 

Rob. Therefore, to refuse to commit a daily crime 
is tantamount to suicide. 


Rod. It would seem so. 

Rob. But suicide is, in itself, a crime— and so, by 
your own showing, you ought none of you to have ever 
died at all ! 

Rod. I see — I understand ! We are all practically 

Rob. Every man Jack of you ! 

Rod. My brother ancestors! Down from your 
frames! (Ancestors descend.) You believe yourselves 
to be dead. You may take it from me that you're not, 
and an application to the Supreme Court is all that is 
necessary to prove that you never ought to have died 
at all 1 

(The Ancestors embrace the Bridesmaids. 
Everybody else follows their example, and 
so the remarkable "supernatural opera" 

Such an extravagant story, told in cold print and a 
necessarily brief and disjointed style, may appear less 
convincing and more open to unfavourable comment 
than when admirably performed by the Savoy com- 
pany amidst the glamour of superb stage-mounting, 
and, above all, the magic charm of Sullivan's music. 
Yet, perhaps, this rough epitome may not have proved 
tedious, but, rather, interesting to those who learn for 
the first time the legend of " The Witch's Curse." 
Anyway, it may raise the question, among present- 
day lovers of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, whether 
they would have felt inclined to join in the applause 
of the majority or in those subdued signs of disapproba- 
tion that greeted " Ruddigore " on the first night of 
its production. 


There were two particularly noteworthy features in 
the performance of " Ruddigore." First to be men- 
tioned was the acting of Miss Jessie Bond in the part 
of "Mad Margaret/ 9 Among the host of her admirers 
few had given the popular Savoy soubrette credit for 
such great ability as a genuine comedy-actress, for 
never before had the opportunity been afforded her 
to display her latent talent — Jessie Bond's triumph 
came as a surprise to all, but especially to those who 
were aware of the fact that her first appearance on 
any stage was in the insignificant part of Hebe in 
u H.M.S. Pinafore." So true to real life was the por- 
trayal of Mad Margaret that Mr. Forbes Winslow, the 
famous authority on mental disorders, wrote a con- 
gratulatory letter to Miss Bond and inquired where she 
had found the model from which she had studied, and 
so faithfully copied the phases of insanity. No greater 
compliment could have been paid the actress. 

Another surprise was effected by Durward Lely in 
the part of Richard Dauntless, the jovial man-o'-war's- 
man. It was truly astonishing to discover a leading 
tenor playing, and playing as though to the manner 
born, a broad comedian's part and dancing a hornpipe 
in such perfection as would crown him king of the 
fo'c'sle of the smartest ship afloat. Mr. D'Oyly Carte 
confessed that Lely had quite disconcerted the opinion 
that he had always before held, that a tenor's voice is 
gained solely at the expense of his brains. 


Recreations — River trips — Celebration dinners and suppers 

The Savoyards were a happy family. Away from their 
duties at the theatre they frequently assembled to 
enjoy some sort of recreation. They had their sports, 
notably cricket. A strong team was formed under the 
captaincy of Rutland Barrington, and, if I remember 
rightly, they generally held their own in the field. 

Sullivan, Gilbert, and D'Oyly Carte, whilst ever 
ready to support the game with their patronage, were 
more strictly concerned with the runs achieved by their 
operas than those scored by the Savoy eleven. 

Very enjoyable was the annual river picnic to which 
I was on more than one occasion honoured with an 
invitation. It took place on a summer's Sunday. 
The full company, under the supreme command of Mr. 
Carte, embarked in two commodious steam launches, 
one bearing the flag of the author, the other that of the 
composer, both flags suggesting pinafores of different 
design. During the voyage up-stream the boats ex- 
changed repeated broadsides of chaff, and I am not 
sure that Gilbert and his merry crew always got the 
better of the playful duel. 

On board the musician's ship, on one occasion, we 
were killing time by trying to concoct rhymes. Failing 
16 341 


in one of our poetic efforts, Arthur Sullivan shouted out 
to his colleague, " I say, Gilbert, we are composing 
Limericks, and want your help ; we have got as far as 

" That sailor who stands at the tiller 
Is in love with a girl calTd Priscilla — 
But she never was taught 
To know starboard from port " — 

and now we are stuck for a last line. Can you give us 
one ? " 
Prompt came the reply : 


I think your best plan is to kill her." 

" Not bad," said Arthur Sullivan, " but it wouldn't 
look well in print. 1 ' 

One of the guests claiming to be a pretty good hand 
at Limericks, was requested to give us a sample of his 
own manufacture. And this was the stuff : 

" An author named William Schwenk, 
Could never say ' Thank ' you, but ' Thenk.' 
His queer BABy rhymes 
Were so naughty sometimes 
That people inquired if he drenk." 

Dead silence followed this recitation. 

The Savoyards were nothing if they were not loyal 
to their esteemed chiefs. They were ever ready to 
resent any slur that might be cast on their characters. 
Gifted with a certain amount of intellect, they could 
not fail to guess who was the object of their friend's 


very irreverent ridicule. Accordingly the ladies of the 
party with one accord turned their backs upon the 
impertinent rhymester, presumably to express their vir- 
tuous contempt, but more possibly to hide their smiles. 
The male Savoyards, some of whom had, earlier in life, 
practised the profession of pirates somewhere down in 
Cornwall, and still retained bloodthirsty instincts, 
surrounded the culprit, threatening to keel-haul the 
landlubber.; then with lusty lungs poured this chorus 
into his astonished ears : 

" Don't say you're orphan, for we know that game." 

The unabashed Limerick merchant calmly replied, 
" But, my good friends, unfortunately I am an orphan ; 
surely you would not hold me responsible for my 
parents' decease." 

As soon as the murmur of disgust had died away, 
the irrepressible jester continued : "I am truly sorry 
to find that my Savoy friends are so utterly lacking in 
a sense of humour as to be oblivious to the innocence 
of my joke. At the same time I am conscious that my 
little poem may have appeared to some as ill-timed 
and not, perhaps, in the best of taste. I therefore 
' beg to offer an unqualified apology.' " 

Pooh Bah, who was standing by, to his manifold 
offices now added that of peacemaker. Stepping for- 
ward, he muttered, in his own distinct way, " I desire 
to associate myself with that expression of regret." 

" I apologize, ladies and gentlemen," continued the 
poetasting guest, " on two conditions " 

" Name them," shouted the pirates in unison. 

''Firstly, that you will not megaphone my Lime* 


rick to Mr. Gilbert's launch. Secondly, that yon 
swear never to divulge the name of the author/ 9 

" We swear/' cried the pirates. 

Thus peace was restored. But one young lady of 
weak nerves had been so upset by the tmeute that she 
fell into Pooh Bah's broad arms, saying, "Oh, Mr. 
Barrington, I do feel so unwell/ 9 

At that some wag in the bows of the boat (it sounded 
like George Grossmith's voice), propounded this riddle : 

"What is the difference between Miss X and 

my cheroot ? " Nobody gave it up ; the answer was 
too patent to all. With one voice came the reply — 
" One is a woman ill, the other is a man Mer." 

Now I come to think of it, it could not have been 
Grossmith, seeing that G. G. never smoked Manillas. 

Fortunately, the undisciplined interlude, which I have 
endeavoured to describe as faithfully as possible, had 
not been witnessed by Mr. D'Oyly Carte. Our worthy 
commander-in-chief had been on the bridge assisting 
the captain to lay the ship's course. 

Anon from our author's launch came floating across 
the water music not always so harmonious as it might 
be. At the sound of it Sullivan yelled out, " Key, 
Gilbert, key!" The response came: " Which quay 
d'you mean ? Where do you want us to land ? " 

Meanwhile Commodore Carte would sit sedately in 
his deck-chair puffing away at his Corona-Corona, 
probably reflecting what a pity it was that such spark- 
ling wit should be wasted on the desert air of Thames 
Valley when it might be turned to more profitable 
account at the Savoy. 


Our place of rendezvous for luncheon was at Penton 
Hook. Mooring our ships off the shore, we landed on a 
riverside meadow, and there proceeded to lay the cloth. 

Speeches were strictly prohibited, but, needless to 
say, with the discussion of chicken and ham there was 
much debate, accompanied by a considerable amount of 
playful heckling. 

After lunch those who were capable engaged in a 
game of rounders, or kiss-in-the-ring. And then, whilst 
Gilbert, Sullivan, and D'Oyly Carte went birds' -nesting, 
or searching around in hope of finding ideas for a new 
opera, the general company squatted on the bankside, 
and, following the principle of the busman's holiday, 
opened a concert performance of selections from the 
vocal scores of the Savoy operas. 

Frank Cellier having purposely, and with wisdom 
aforethought, left his b&ton at the theatre, deputed 
Grossmith or Barrington in turn to take his place as 
musical director, a duty which they carried out, as 
Cellier admitted, very creditably to themselves, if not 
always to the clear understanding of the singers. 

At the first sound of the Savoyards' chorus every 
skiff and punt on the river within hail hastened full 
speed to the spot. No S.O.S. message of the present 
day was ever more promptly responded to. In a few 
minutes we found ourselves blockaded by a vast fleet 
of pleasure craft. The enthusiasm of the scene, the 
cheers and applause, reminded us somewhat of a first 
night at the Savoy, only that the charm of Sullivan's 
music was now enhanced by the environment of 
natural scenery and effects. 


If we had yielded to every encore we should not have 
reached our homes till long past the witching hour of 
midnight. At this present distance of time I find it 
beyond my ability to review those historic scenes of 
revelry with the accuracy and graphic power of a 
special correspondent. 

Such samples of Savoyard holiday humour as I have 
endeavoured to offer may not appear quite convincing, 
nor were they calculated to set the Thames afire ; yet, 
be it hoped, the reader may be enabled by this snap- 
shot to enter into the spirit of the scene, and to picture 
the excursions and alarums of the Savoyards in the 
glad days of their brotherhood. 

Another custom adopted by the Savoy company as 
a means of maintaining social esprit de corps was the 
periodical holding of " family " dinner or supper parties. 
These reunions were generally arranged for the specific 
purpose of celebrating the successful run of an opera 
or any other notable event connected with Savoy 
history. The feasts were distinctly unofficial and in- 
formal to a degree. In fact, the proud, precise Savoyards 
unbent for the nonce, and transformed themselves into 
Bohemians of the most frivolous and irresponsible type. 

" Gagging' ' was not only legalized but encouraged 
on these occasions; but the general conversational 
dialogue smacked of the Gilbertian. Such was its 

The dinner or supper was confined to members of the 
Company, and a few favoured attaches and camp- 
followers of the Savoy who were invited as guests. 

Principals and chorus, ladies and gents, foregathered 


on equal footing, and contributed songs and recita- 
tions to the post-prandial entertainment. Oppor- 
tunity was thus afforded the humblest and most 
modest chorister to display his or her shining talent 
which, on the stage, had been kept under a bushel, 
latent and undreamed of. 

But, naturally, the life and soul of these festive 
gatherings were the chief Savoy jesters, Grossmith 
and Barrington. These vied with each other in en- 
livening our sing-song. They invariably imported 
samples of ware from elsewhere than the shop in which 
they served. Often such goods were of their own 
manufacture. Sometimes it was a topical song ; some- 
times a humorous recitation fitted to the occasion. 
By way of sample of the home-made articles introduced 
I venture to quote some lines, a printed copy of which 
I recently unearthed when overhauling my collection 
of Savoy Souvenirs. These lines, penned in " acrostic " 
form, were spoken by Rutland Barrington on the 
occasion of a supper held at the Covent Garden 
Hotel on March 13th, 1887 (Queen Victoria's golden 
jubilee year), when the opera "Ruddigore" was run- 
ning its successful course at the Savoy. 

The acrostic was as follows : 

41 Q ood friends, since, by remorseless witch's curse, 
I must this evening perpetrate some crime, 
L ike base Sir Despard, only far, far worse, 
B ehold me — hear me, revelling in rhyme : 
E 'en I, the semblance of that bold, bad Bart, 
B evolt at pointing my poetic dart 
T 'wards Gilbert, Sullivan, and D'Oyly Carte. 


" ould Gilbert write and Sullivan compose 
A song of Jubilee for the Savoy, 
B ight merrily we'd sing it — tho' Heav'n knows 
T here's far more Jubilee, just now, than joy — 
B 'en fifty golden years have some alloy. 

" 8 uch song remains unwrit, so let's, instead, 
U nited sing, ' Long life to Ruddigore ! ' 
L ong life to those whose wits are wisely wed ; 
L ong life, Sir Arthur, Gilbert, Carte, Lenoir ! 
I *m glad to see our ladies here to-night ; 
V ain without them, with them is true delight. 
A nd now my crime is done — forgive my verse, 
N o fault of mine, but of the witch's curse." 

C. B. 


of revivals — " H.M.S. Pinafore " — Geraldine Ulmar — J. G. 
Robinson — Rosina Brandram's Little Buttercup — A Bermuda 
bumboat woman — Sydney Smith Dickens— Dinah's Tea-party — 
" The Pirates of Penzance "— " The Mikado "—Rutland Barring- 
ton's secession — Barrington opens St. James's Theatre — Success 
of Savoy revivals. 

On November 5th (an appropriate date, by the way, 
remembering that it was the anniversary of an event 
which terminated the career of another " wicked 
ancestor/' whose name was not Murgatroyd, but Guy 
Fawkes) "Ruddigore" came to an end. For nearly 
a year following the Savoy stage was occupied by a 
series of revivals. 

On November 12th, 1887, "H.M.S. Pinafore" was 
recommissioned with the following crew: 

Sir Joseph Porter, 
Captain Corcoran 
Ralph Rackstraw 
Dick Deadeye 
BiU Bobstay 
Bob Beckett 
Josephine . 
Little Buttercup 

K.C.B. . Mr. George Grossmith l 
Mr. Rutland Barrington * 
Mr. J. G. Robertson 
Mr. Richard Temple * 
Mr. R. Cummings 
. Mr. Rudolph Lewis 
Miss Geraldine Ulmar 
Miss Jessie Bond * 
Miss Rosina Brandram 

1 Original characters. 


was the occasion of the first appearance at the 
Savoy of Miss Geraldine Ulmar, a singer and actress 
destined to become one of the favourite prima donnas 
of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas. 

Another recruit to the Savoyard ranks was Mr. J. G. 
Robertson, who succeeded George Power as principal 
tenor, and scored success as "Ralph Rackstraw." 
Mr. Robertson was, if I remember rightly, a brother 
of Mrs. Kendal. Touching Rosina Brandram's Little 
Buttercup, if ever such a winsome and sweet- voiced 
bumboat-woman boarded Her Majesty's ships at 
Spithead in Victorian days, she must have taken 
captive the whole crew and driven a roaring trade — 

" In tea and in coffee, 
In treacle and toffee 
And excellent peppermint-drops." 

It required no Gilbertian stretch of imagination to 
make a post-captain fall desperately in love with such 
" a plump and pleasing person." 

It may not sound complimentary to the memory 
of the famous Savoy contralto if I confess that 
Miss Brandram's delightful Little Buttercup often 
reminded me of another fascinating bumboat-woman 
I had previously met in real life. It was at Bermuda 
in the early sixties, when I was a midshipman in the 
Royal Navy. The lady (a coloured one, by the way), 
who purveyed "tuck" on board H.M.S. Orlando, 
was of such a sweet, amiable disposition, and, withal, 
such an amusing raconteuse, that every gun-room 
officer in the British fleet fell a victim to her wiles. 


But the middy upon whom Mrs. Dinah Browne be- 
stowed particular favour was young Sydney Smith 
Dickens, youngest son of the only Charles Dickens. 
" Little expectations/' as we nick-named him (k propos 
his father's story " Great Expectations/' which had 
just about that time been published), gained the good 
woman's affections chiefly by his prodigious purchases 
of the luxuries she purveyed, such as guava jelly, 
rahat-lakoum, bananas, boot-laces, etc. In return for 
his patronage and custom, Dinah invited " Massa 
Dicksie" to take tea with her on shore, and I, be- 
ing the lad's particular chum, was included in the 

Accordingly, one afternoon to Madame Browne's 
private residence we repaired. 

Dinah's boudoir was a clean and cosy corner in a 
somewhat primitive cabin home. It was neatly fur- 
nished with articles which had been salved from wrecks 
on the neighbouring coast — a conspicuous object being 
that which had once been a cottage pianoforte. The 
walls were adorned with a large number of photos 
(we called them cartes de visile in those days) of young 
naval officers, all below the rank of lieutenant. After 
tea our hostess entertained us with humorous anec- 
dotes — real genuine midshipman's tales — and yielding 
to our persuasion sang to us some charming coon-songs 
in a rich, deep, but rudely cultured contralto voice. 
Thence it may be understood how " Little Butter- 
cup" of the Savoy often recalled to my mind the 
amiable and " gifted " Bumboat-woman of Bermuda. 
" H.M.S. Pinafore " enjoyed another prosperous run 



before a favouring breeze — one hundred and twenty 
performances, just about the number of her guns, 
assuming she was a three-decker of the Victory type. 
On March 17th, 1888, " The Pirates of Penzance " 
made their reappearance, impersonated as follows: 

Major- General Stanley 

Pirate King 


Frederic • 

Sergeant of Police 






Mr. George Grossmtth * 

Mr. Richard Temple l 

Mr. R. Cummings 

Mr. J. G. Robertson 

Mr. Rutland Barrington * 

Miss Geraldinb Ulmar 

Miss Jessie Bond 

Miss Kavanagh 

Miss Lawrence 

Miss Rosina Brandram 

" The Pirates " ran eighty nights, and on June 7th, 
1888, " The Mikado " was revived for the first time — 
with the following dramatis personae. 

The Mikado 

. Mr. Richard Temple 

Nanlti Poo 

. Mr. J. G. Robertson 


Mr. George Grossmith * 

Pooh Bah 

Mr. Rutland Barrington * 

Pishi Tush 

Mr. R. Cummings 

Yum Yum 

Miss Geraldine Ulmar 

Pitti Sing 

Miss Jessie Bond 

Peep Bo 

Miss Sybil Grey 

Katisha . 

Miss Rosina Brandram 

After a run of 116 performances, "The Mikado" 
was again withdrawn on September 29th, 1888. 
At the close of "The Mikado's" second campaign 



Rutland Barrington terminated his engagement at 
the Savoy. 

For just ten years the popular comedian had faith- 
fully served under the D'Oyly Carte management. 
Many were the parts he had created ; rich were the 
honours he had scored. But the time had now arrived 
when the actor sought new opportunities for satisfying 
his professional aspirations. 

Barrington had been persuaded to try his hand at 
the attractive but risky reins of theatrical management. 
Backed by a friendly financier, and encouraged by the 
hearty good wishes of his Savoy colleagues and a host 
of admirers, he took the St. James's Theatre and in- 
augurated his management with the production of a new 
comedy called ' ' The Dean' s Daughter.' ' This, proving a 
failure, was followed by a play written expressly for him 
by Mr. W. S. Gilbert. Through the author's recom- 
mendation, Miss Julia Neilson was engaged for the 
principal part in " Brantinghame Hall," as the piece 
was called. This was the d6but in London of Miss 
Neilson, who to-day, needless to relate, is numbered 
amongst the most gifted and distinguished of English 
actresses. Of the evil fortune which befel Rutland 
Barrington' s venture, and the causes which led to his 
failure, particulars may be gathered from the pages of 
the actor's autobiography published a few years ago. 

Barrington' s loss was the Savoy's gain, for it was 
not very long before Pooh Bah, the popular, returned 
to the scenes of his former triumphs. Among the 
multitude of his friends and sympathizing acquaint- 
ances, no one felt more sorry for Barrington' s bad luck 


at the St James's Theatre, no one was more pleased 
to welcome him back to the Savoy, than the writer of 
these present reminiscences, who for some years had 
been his constant associate. 

The policy of revivals was more than fully justified 
by the results. " H.M.S. Pinafore/' " The Pirates of 
Penzance," and " The Mikado " had each, in turn, 
proved that it was not dead, but had simply been in- 
dulged with well-earned rest. Moreover, the interval 
occupied by the reproduction of these pieces allowed 
Gilbert and Sullivan leisure to turn their attention to 
the preparation of a new opera. It was an opportunity 
of which the author and composer did not fail to avail 
themselves to the full. And the issue was "The 
Yeomen of the Guard." 


49 The Yeomen of the Guard " — Gilbert curbs his Pegasus — Gilbert and 
Sullivan's masterpiece — Sullivan's favourite opera — The lyrics — 
Scene between Phoebe, Meryll, and Wilfred Shadbolt— The two 
Savoy Jessies — Sullivan's puzzle in setting " I have a song to sing, 
O " — Triumph of musical construction — Peppermint Bulls'-Eyes 
at stage rehearsal — Tales of two Jessies. 

On Wednesday, October 3rd, 1888, London was pre- 
sented with Number Nine of the series of Gilbert and 
Sullivan's operas. The title was: 



Dramatis Personae 

Sir Richard Cholmondeley . Mr. Wallace Bbownlow 

(Lieutenant of the Tower) 
Colonel Fairfax . Mr. Courtice Pounds 

(Under sentence of death) 
Sergeant Meryll. . Mr. Richard Temple 

(Of the Yeomen of the Guard) 
Leonard Meryll . . Mr. W. R. Shirley 

(His Son) 
Jack Point . . Mr. George Grossmith 

(A Strolling Jester) 
Wilfred Shadbolt . Mr. W. H. Denny 

(Head Jailer and Assistant Tormentor) 

The Headsman Mr. Richards 

First Yeoman Mr. Wilbraham 



Second Yeoman .... Mil Medcalf 

Third Yeoman Mr. Merton 

Fourth Yeoman Mr. Rudolf Lewis 

Firet Citizen Mr. Redmond 

Second Citizen Mr. Boyd 

Elsie Maynard . . Miss Geraldine Ulmar 

(A Strolling Singer) 
Phoebe Meryll .... Miss Jessie Bond 

(Sergeant Meryll 1 $ Daughter) 
Dame Camithers . Miss Rosina Brandram 

(Housekeeper to the Tower) 
Kate Miss Rose Hervey 

(Her Niece) 
Chorus of Yeomen of the Guard, Gentlemen, Citizens, etc. 

The opera produced under the personal direction of 

the Author and Composer. 

Act I. — Tower Green. 

Act II.— The Tower from the Wharf. 

Date. — iGth Century 

Musical Director . . Mr. Francois Ceixier 
Stage Manager .... Mr. W. H. Seymour 

The Scenery painted by Mr. Hawes Craven (by permis- 
sion of Sir Henry Irving). The Dresses designed by Mr. 
Percy Anderson and executed by Miss Fisher, Madame 
L6on, and Mr. B. J. Simmons. Wigs by Clarkson. The 
Dances arranged by Mr. John D'Auban. Stage Machinist, 
Mr. P. White. Electrician, Mr. Lyons. 

Play-goers and music-lovers were once again on the 
tenter-hooks of pleasurable anticipation. The three 
recent revivals had put a keen edge on their appetites. 
Expectation was quickened by the rumour that the 
new piece was to be of a different pattern from any oi 


the preceding Savoy productions. And such it proved 
to be. The collaborators had broken entirely fresh 
ground. " The Yeomen " marked a very distinct 
departure. It seemed to indicate that Gilbert had, at 
last, determined upon breaking in his fiery, untamed 
steed. The poet had bridled and brought Pegasus 
down from the Helicon of unrealities to the plains of 
earth. Henceforth — at any rate for a while — he would 
canter gently on terra firma without appalling the senses 
of ordinary mortals. But the spoilt pet of Gilbert's 
muse chafed beneath the curb. Every now and then 
he seemed disposed to show the cloven hoof. Pegasus 
was unwilling to remain in this dull, unpoetic sphere 
of ours. 

But Gilbert had come to realize that his best friends 
wanted to see and hear more of him and from a different 
aspect. They had been fondly hoping that some day 
the gifted Savoyard would hold the mirror up to 
nature ; not one of those terrible concave or convex 
quick-silver* d libellers that distort the forms of the 
noblest of men and the features of the fairest of women, 
but a perfect plate-glass, bevelled-edged mirror that 
should reflect people and things as they really are. 
Our author had learnt what was looked for, and ex- 
pected of him ; and now the Savoyard chieftains had 
set their united wits at work to give us an opera of 
more rational, less fantastic quality than any they had 
yet produced. It was an experiment ; happily, a most 
successful experiment. 

If a Referendum were taken, or if judgment may be 
safely based on the aggregate number of consecutive 



performances, then " The Mikado " would very likely 
be returned as first favourite of all the Savoy operas. 
In the popular " Ring " the Japanese play undoubtedly 
remains favourite to the present day. Still, it can 
hardly be questioned that, as a work of pure dramatic 
and musical art, " The Yeomen of the Guard " is 
Gilbert and Sullivan's chef d'ceuvre. By a select 
number of the cognoscenti it has been pronounced the 
best English light opera ever given to the stage. In 
the early days of its production it was universally pre- 
dicted that " The Yeomen " would be living long after 
the more frivolous pieces of the Savoy repertoire were 
forgotten. But there were few even among the most 
devoted partisans of the Savoy who, five-and-twenty 
years ago, would have dreamed that in the year 1914* 
the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, with only one or two 
exceptions, would be living and delighting the people 
as greatly as they did in their pristine days. 

" Ivanhoe," the romantic opera with which D'Oyly 
Carte opened his palatial English Opera-house (now 
the Palace Theatre), was of a loftier and more ambitious 
type of lyric work. If it may not strictly be classified 
as Grand Opera, it was generally spoken of and criti- 
cized as such. But "The Yeomen of the Guard" 
remained Sullivan's favourite of all his offsprings given 
to the stage. Its composition yielded him more 
genuine pleasure than he Had found in any opera of 
the topsy-turvy type. In the story of " The Merry- 
man and his Maid" the author strikes deeper into the 
mine of human sympathy ; his plot is invested with 
pure pathos ; his characters are not only witty, bat 


wise ; they are humorous without being obtrusively 
paradoxical. Many of them might have walked out of 
Macaula/s " History of England," or one of those stir- 
ring romance* by Ainsworth or G. P. R. James which 
thrilled us in our school-days. In Gilbert's story of 
the "Tower of London" we seem to identify some 
individuals we have met before. At any rate, we are 
ready to believe they have all existed in the past. 

So deftly has the librettist done his work that the 
lyrics, apart from the accompanying dialogue, might 
suffice to tell the story of the brave soldier condemned 
to die by the headsman's axe. They describe the 
prisoner's rescue from the block through the aid of a 
warm-hearted woman, a simple maiden who contrives 
to outwit the zealous warders of the Tower, and to 
checkmate even the head jailer and assistant tormentor, 
whose playthings are racks, pincers, and thumbscrews. 
In plaintive verse Gilbert relates the sadder incident of 
the luckless jester, poor Jack Point, whose antiquated 
quips — may we call them ambrosial chestnuts? — 
and merry patter-songs are mingled with " sighs for 
the love of a ladye." The unhappy fool's heart is 
breaking for a maiden who, by the unwitting act of 
saving the life, and becoming the bride, of a noble 
soldier, drives to despair and death the faithful com- 
panion of her past adversity. It is only necessary to 
glance through the book of the words to find the story 
of " The Yeomen of the Guard " clearly and concisely 
outlined in the songs and concerted numbers. This 
is what a musical play should be, but seldom is. None 
but a master playwright could have prepared such a 


book, and assuredly " The Yeomen of the Guard " is 
Sir William Gilbert's masterpiece of libretti. 

What delightful lyrics! Not a rhyme without 
reason ! Not a love-song without a touch of poetry in 
it ! Not a chorus without strong dramatic significance ! 
What cause, then, to marvel at Sullivan's gratification 
when he sat down to clothe with melody such charming 
stanzas ? Seldom has a composer been favoured with 
words so music-compelling. Take, for instance, the two 
Tenor Ballads, " Is life a boon ? " in the first act, and 
in the second act, " Free from his fetters grim." I 
cannot resist the temptation to quote both these 
admirable lyrics. Not only may they serve to illu- 
minate these pages, but I feel sure every reader who 
has ever heard them sung will welcome them here as 
the means of reawakening memories of their exquisite 
musical refrains. 

It will be remembered how Colonel Fairfax, having 
been condemned to death, is being conducted under 
guard to his dungeon in the Tower. On the way he is 
permitted to halt and greet his old friend and comrade 
Sergeant Meryll, who is striving to comfort his weeping 
daughter — Phoebe. Let me recall the speech that pre- 
cedes the song. Thus : 

Phoebe. (Aside to Meryll.) Oh, father, father, I 
cannot btar it 1 

Mer. My poor lass ! 

Fair. Nay, pretty one, why weepest thou ? Come, 
be comforted. Such a life as mine is not worth weeping 
for. (Sees Meryll.) Sergeant Meryll, is it not ? (To 
Lieut.). May I greet toy old friend ? (Shakes Meryix's 


hand). Why, man, what's all this ? Thou and I have # 
faced the grim old king a dozen times, and never has 
his majesty come to me in such goodly fashion. Keep 
a stout heart, good fellow— we are soldiers and we know ' 
how to die, thou and I. Take my word for it, it is 
easier to die well than to live well — for, in sooth, I have 
tried both. 

Ballad.— Fairfax 

" Is life a boon ? 

If so, it must befal 

That Death, whene'er he call, 
Must call too soon. 

Though fourscore years he give, 

Yet one would pray to live 
Another moon ! 

What kind of plaint have I, 

Who perish in July ? 

I might have had to die. 
Perchance, in June ! 

" Is life a thorn ? 

Then count it not a whit ! 

Man is well done with it ; 
Soon as he's born, 

He should all means essay 

To put the plague away ; 
And I, war-worn, 

Poor captured fugitive, 

My life most gladly give — 

I might have had to live 
Another morn ! " 

The second song occurs when Colonel Fairfax finds 
himself free from his dungeon, but bound by conjugal 
ties to which, for the purpose of the plot, he has been 
compelled to submit. 


Col. Fairfax. So I am free! Free, but for the cursed 
haste with which I hurried headlong into the bonds 

of matrimony with Heaven knows whom ! As far 

as I remember, she should have been young ; but 
even had not her face been concealed by her kerchief, 
I doubt whether in my then plight I should have taken 
much note of her. Free ? Bah ! The Tower bonds were 
but a thread of silk compared with these conjugal 
fetters which I, fool that I was, placed upon mine own 
hands ! From the one I broke readily enough — how 
to break the other t 

Song. — Fairfax 

" Free from his fetters grim — 

Free to depart ; 
Free both in life and limb — 

In all but heart ! 
Bound to an unknown bride 

For good and ill ; 
Ah, is not one so tied 

A prisoner still ? 

" Free, yet in fetters held 

Till his last hour. 
Gyves that no smith can weld, 

No rust devour J 
Although a monarch's hand 

Had set him free, 
Of all the captive band 

The saddest he ! " 

From a casket full of such rich gems it is not easy to 
select one more lustrous than another. But as a 
sample of exquisite coquetry, as an illustration of the 
wiles of a saucy maiden humouring, to his destruction, 
the attentions of a repulsive wooer, let me commend 


that delightful comedy scene between Phoebe Meryll 
and Wilfred Shadbolt, the baboonish jailer. Phoebe, 
in order to secure the keys of the cell in which Colonel 
Fairfax is imprisoned, proceeds to captivate her 
loathsome lover with the make-believe of reciprocated 

(Phoebe has slyly taken bunch of keys from 
Wilfred's waistband and hands them to 
Sergeant Meryll, who enters the Tower , 
unnoticed by Wilfred). 

Wilfred. Ha ! ha t I am a mad wag. 

Phoebe. (With a grimace.) Thou art a most light- 
hearted and delightful companion, Master Wilfred. 
Thine anecdotes of the torture-chamber are the prettiest 

Wilfred. I'm a pleasant fellow an' I choose. I 
believe I am the merriest dog that barks. Ah, we 
might be passing happy together. 

Phoebe. Perhaps. I do not know. 

Wilfred. For thou wouldst make a most tender 
and loving wife. 

Phoebe. Aye, to one whom I really loved. For 
there is a wealth of love within this little heart — saving 
up for — I wonder whom ? Now, of all the world of men, 
I wonder whom ? To think that he whom I am to wed 
is now alive and somewhere ! Perhaps far away, per- 
haps close at hand ! And I know him not t It seemeth 
that I am wasting time in not knowing him. 

Wilfred. Now say that it is I — nay I suppose it 
for the nonce. Say that we are wed — suppose it only 
— say that thou art my very bride, and I thy cheery, 
joyous, bright, frolicsome husband — and that, the 
day's work being done, and the prisoners stored away 


for the night, thou and I are alone together — with a 
long, long evening before us ! 

Phoebe. (With a grimace.) It is a pretty picture 
but I scarcely know. It cometh so unexpectedly- 
and yet — and yet — were I thy bride 

Wilfred. Aye I wert thou my bride ? 

Phoebe. Oh, how I would love thee ! 

Ballad. — Phoebe 

" Were I thy bride. 
Then the whole world beside 
Were not too wide 

To hold my wealth of love — 
Were I thy bride ! 

" Upon thy breast 
My loving head would rest, 
As on her nest 

The tender turtle-dove — 
Were I thy bride ! 

" This heart of mine 
Would be one heart with thine, 
And in that shrine 

Our happiness would dwell — 
Were^I thy bride ! 

" And all day long 
Our lives should be a song : 
No grief, no wrong 

Should make my heart rebel — 
Were I thy bride ! 

" The silvery flute, 
The melancholy lute, 
Were night-owl's hoot 

To my love-whispered 
Were I thy bride ! 



" The skylark's trill 
Were but discordance shrill 
To the soft thrill 

Of wooing as I'd woo — 
Were I thy bride ! 


(Mekyll re-enters ; gives keys to Phoebe, who 
replaces them at Wilfred's girdle, un- 
noticed by him.) 

" The rose's sigh 
Were as a carrion's cry 
To lullaby 

Such as I'd sing to thee, 
Were I thy bride ! 

" A feather's press 
Were leaden heaviness 
To my caress ; 
But then, of course, you see, 
I'm not thy bride ! " 

(Exit Phoebe.) 

Wilfred. No, thou'rt not — not yet! But, Lord, 
how she woo'd ! I should be no mean judge of wooing, 
seeing that I have been more hotly woo'd than most 
men. I have been woo'd by maid, widow, and wife. 
I have been woo'd boldly, timidly, tearfully, shyly — 
by direct assault, by suggestion, by implication, by 
inference, and by innuendo. But this wooing is not 
of the common order ; it is the wooing of one who 
must needs woo me, if she die for it ! 

(Exit Wilfred.) 

Who that witnessed this scene as originally played 
by Mr. W. H. Denny and Miss Jessie Bond can ever 
forget the effect it had upon the audience ? Once again 



the fascinating little Savoy soubrette displayed admir- 
able skill as a comedy actress. Nothing could be more 
coquettish, more artistically artful than the manner in 
which the cunning Phoebe wheedled and deceived the 
unsuspecting Cerberus. This is altogether one of the 
most amusing scenes in the opera, and never fails to 
meet with rapturous applause. 

During the last revival of " The Yeomen of the 
Guard" at the Savoy the part of Phoebe was sustained 
by Miss Jessie Rose so charmingly that not only old 
Savoyards but Sir William Gilbert himself declared the 
second Jessie to be in every respect a worthy successor 
to Jessie the First as Queen of Savoy Soubrettes. 

Sir Arthur Sullivan used to confess that the most 
puzzling musical problem that he was ever called upon 
to solve was the setting of the duet between Jack 
Point and Elsie Maynard. The lyric which holds the 
keynote of the sad story of " The Merryman and his 
Maid 91 Gilbert had constructed on the model of the 
nursery rhyme, " The House that Jack Built." The 
stanza, " I have a song to sing, O " comprises four 
verses ; to each succeeding verse two lines are added. 
Thus, while the first verse is of seven lines only, the last 
verse is extended to thirteen lines. It will be admitted 
that, as a rule, the composer of an ordinary drawing- 
room ballad finds an insuperable difficulty in setting 
it if the verses are not minutely alike in metre and 
number of lines ; he requires that each verse shall 
contain the same precise quantity of dactyls and 
spondees in the same strict sequence, otherwise his 
muse will not awake to the occasion. This being so. 


will any one be surprised to learn that it took Sullivan 
a full fortnight to set to music Gilbert's very out-of-the- 
common lyric ? It kept poor Sir Arthur awake at night, 
and, when a friend called and found him in a semi- 
demented state, he would moan out in melancholy 
tone, " My dear fellow, I have a song to set 0, and I 
don't know how the dickens I'm going to do it ? " 
However, as we all know, Sullivan accomplished it at 
last, if not to his own entire satisfaction, to the wonder 
and delight of everybody else. Musicians alone can 
appreciate the intricacy of his task, and the masterly 
way in which he fulfilled it, especially as regards the 
elaborate and diversified orchestration with its pathetic 
drone pervading it throughout. 

" I have a song to sing, O," may not be considered by 
every one the gem of the opera, but that it is a trjumph 
of musical construction all will admit. Moreover, it 
is the song that is first quoted whenever " The Yeomen 
of the Guard" is mentioned. 

Over the contemplation of this delightful opera 
one would gladly linger beyond the allotted time and 
space. But already it may be thought that I have 
wandered beyond the domain of happy reminiscences 
into the more prosaic field of dry, critical Review. And 
so, lest we depart yet further from the purpose of the 
present volume, let me bring this chapter to a close 
with an anecdote which " The Yeomen of the Guard " 
recalls to mind. 

It was timorously whispered into my ears by Miss 
Jessie Rose. The young lady hesitated before be* 
ginning the story ; she feared that her gossip might 


be calculated to " give Sir Arthur Sullivan away/' but 
I assured her that, if the tale was a good one against 
himself, Sullivan was certain to have repeated it. 
In like assurance I hazard its publication here. 

One day, during the rehearsal of " The Yeomen of 
the Guard " for its first revival at the Savoy, Francois 
Cellier, who was coaching the chorus, noticed that some 
of the ladies were not singing out with their usual 
power and clear accent. On his reproving them for 
what he conceived to be slackness and inattention, his 
lecture was received with subdued laughter. Feeling 
annoyed, the musical director approached Miss Jessie 
Rose, whom he imagined to be the ring-leader, and 
asked for an explanation of this revolt, saying he 
could not put up with such breach of discipline. Miss 
Rose, trying to assume a serious countenance, spluttered 
forth, " Well, Mr. Cellier — you must forgive us ; it is 
quite impossible to sing with our mouths full/ 1 Sul- 
livan, then coming to Cellier's side, said, " Don't scold 
the ladies, Francois — it's all my fault ! Miss Rose is 
quite right ; nobody can sing with a mouth full/ 1 
Then, taking from his overcoat pocket a box of May- 
nard's famous peppermint bulls' -eyes, he extended 
it to Cellier, saying, " You try ! accept one of these 
Elsie Maynards" Francis, smiling, placed the sweet- 
meat in his mouth and muttered, " I think the best 
thing we can do is to take a few bars' rest for refresh- 

During the pause Jessie Rose, who, added to her 
other accomplishments, possessed poetic fancy, scribbled 
on the fly-leaf of her score the following lines : 



How doth the bulTs-eyed peppermint 
Delight the singer's throat I 
It gives a charming mezzo-tint 
To sweet soprano note." 

This poem falling into Sir Arthur's hands, he re- 
marked that, if it were not for fear of making Sir 
William jealous, he might set the words to music. 

11 Oh please — please, Sir Arthur — don't do that/' 
pleaded the poetess, all the time thinking to herself — 
" If only he would ! " 

It must be added that such frivolous interludes were 
very exceptional at the Savoy rehearsals, where, as we 
have before mentioned, strict attention to business 
was the general rule. This fact may be emphasized 
by repeating something told me by that other popular 
Savoy soubrette — " Jessie the First," as we have called 
her. Miss Jessie Bond has assured me that the only 
time she can remember ever seeing Sir Arthur Sullivan 
cross was when she sang a crotchet instead of a quaver. 

Both the above items of tittle-tattle relating to the 
loved and respected maestro help to illustrate alike 
the generous nature and the amiability of Sir Arthur 


The value of contrast studied by the Three Savoyards — Gilbert as true 
portrait-painter and as caricaturist — The author's pet hobby- 
Gilbert resumes rdle of Jester — Collaborators mentally transport 
themselves from the Tower of London to the sunny south — Gilbert 
discovers characters for Venetian opera — Introduces them to 
Sullivan— Gondolieri and Contadine— The plot outlined— Original 
cast of " The Gondoliers " — George Grossmith's name missing 
from Savoy bills for the first time— Return of Rutland Barrington 
—Enthusiastic reception of " The Gondoliers "—Sullivan's difficult 
task in composing " The Gondoliers " — Press notices — A captious 
critic— Evidence of " Gondoliers' " success— Visits of Royalty to 
the Savoy — Queen Victoria's Command Performance at Windsor 
Castle— Chappell & Co.'s first issue of " Gondoliers " score, etc.— 
Sullivan tells how he unconsciously annoyed sensitive member of 

A skilful chef will arrange his m6nu from day to day 
with studious care to gratify his patrons' taste for 
variety. In like manner did our Three Savoyards, in 
the preparation of each succeeding programme, show 
their regard for the value of contrast For example : 
had " The Yeomen of the Guard " followed immediately 
on the heels of " Ruddigore," so serious a play might 
not have proved as acceptable as it did after a richauffi 
of lighter pieces had whetted the public appetite for 
more substantial fare. 

But on no occasion that I can recall was contrast 
more evident or more agreeable than when we were 
given " The Gondoliers.' ' 



In "The Yeomen" the author had touched the 
deepest chords of human sympathy. The story of 
" The Merryman and his Maid " was rich in genuine 
pathos relieved by wit and humour of that pure kind 
which is without the sting of satire, void of that caustic 
ridicule from which it had been imagined no Gilbertian 
libretto could ever be free. In his latest opera Gilbert 
had shown how he could paint true portraits of people 
as cleverly as he could sketch caricatures. The Savoy 
author had proved how, from behind the grinning 
mask of his own eccentric comedy, he could behold and 
study men and women as they actually live and move 
and have their being. He could see and read and 
depict their characteristics as faithfully as any ordinary 
dramatist or poet. But Gilbert 9 s pet hobby was shooting 
with his own patent catapult at folly as it flies. Just 
for a while he seemed to have wearied of losing himself 
in the clouds. He had ceased to gaze down from 
giddy heights, and no longer indulged in the practical 
joke of showering grains of mustard and pepper upon 
the pigmy people who swarmed like ants beneath him. 

He had become content for a day to seek among 
ordinary mortals for characters whom the least imagina- 
tive play-goer could identify as true types of humanity. 
Around than he would weave a plot and story per- 
fectly consistent with the realities of life. And so, as 
we have seen, he gave us his masterpiece of opera- 
libretti — " The Yeomen of the Guard/ 1 

But now, after a year spent beneath the grey, grim 
walls of the Tower of London, Gilbert, with his ever 
willing colleagues Sullivan and Carte, determined to 


transport us away from scenes of gloom and grief to 
realms of sunshine and mirth. Ah ! thought all 
Savoyards, " What a delightful, exhilarating change 
it will be ! " 

Sullivan, well used to the varying moods and vagaries 
of his gifted friend, waits ready with his lyre to accom- 
pany him once more into the regions of Topsy-turvy- 
dom. The composer has simply to change his key from 
the minor, which had been in keeping with the sad 
story of unhappy Jack Point, to the major key, which 
shall better befit the songs of the Sunny South whither 
the co-labourers are bound. 

Away they hie together, Gilbert with his wallet 
bulging with brilliant ideas, Sullivan with his brain- 
cells bubbling over with streams of melody- Away 
they journey southwards until " To Venetia's shores 
they come." 

They have left far behind them in the chill North 
those stern-visaged, medieval-looking Yeomen of the 
Guard, the solemn warders of the Tower ; and now 
they find themselves surrounded by cheery Venetians ; 
gay and gallant gondolieri with smiling, sweet- voiced 
contadine. Above them a clear cerulean sky ; beneath 
them sparkling waters. Everywhere around them 
brilliant colour, music, song, dance, laughter. What 
a change ! with such environment how can the Savoy 
humorists be other than light-hearted, not to say 
exuberantly frolicsome ? How can they fail with such 
material ready at hand to produce a play that shall 
charm their friends at home with, a glimpse of Italian 
glories ; an opera that shall set dull London once more 


singing and dancing to their merry tunes for many a 
month to come ? 

And now, in silvery Venice, Gilbert listens to a tale 
concerning a kingdom called Barataria, whose throne 
is vacant. He then chances across various quaint 
characters that will just suit his " book." First, he 
discovers the eccentric, impecunious Duke of Plaza- 
Toro, a grandee of Spain who is in process of forming 
himself into a Limited Liability Company. (" What 
a part for Grossmith ! " thinks our author. " But — 
Grossmith has deserted us.") 

His grace has just arrived in Venice with the Grand 
Duchess and their charming daughter Casilda — and 
suite. The suite in attendance on the courtly party 
consists of one individual, a handsome youth named 
Luiz, who, naturally enough, has fallen desperately in 
love with the pretty Casilda. Now (in his mind's eye), 
Gilbert sees approaching Don Alhambra del Bolero, 
the Grand Inquisitor. 

" The very man I was looking for ! Why, bless my 
lucky star, if this worthy person is not the very image 
of Denny ! Capital ! we'll soon get our plot and 
characters together." 

To Sir Arthur Sullivan Mr. Gilbert then presents 
all these distinguished personages — and their suite. 
The author has already secured an option on all the 
shares in " The Duke of Plaza-Toro Co., Ltd." 

Our ever-ready composer forthwith proceeds to 
measure them all for music — just as a court tailor in 
Bond Street fits a Duke or an Earl with robes of rank. 

One thing is quite certain, the Duke and Duchess of 


Plaza-Toro will be perfectly suited with appropriate 
serio-comic numbers, and Sullivan has made up his 
mind that the lovely Casilda shall have a delicious love- 
duet with the handsome Luiz as soon as the " musical 
suite" is permitted to cast aside that "delicately modu- 
lated instrument " (the drum) of which he is said to be 
a "past-master." Gilbert has whispered to Sullivan: 
" You see, I intend that Luiz shall eventually turn 
out to be the rightful heir to the throne of Barataria." 

" Ah, splendid idea that ! so original ! " remarks 
Sullivan sotto voce. I suppose you will want a coro- 
nation march. " Eh ? Well — perhaps — but — no— I 
think we will crown him off. But I'll tell you what we 
must have, and that is a grand dance." 

" Yes — quite so ! say a cachucha ! and for how many ? 
Oh, the full strength of the company, I should say." 

Sir Arthur makes a note : " Cachucha omnes " 

" And now," continues Gilbert, "we must select half 
a dozen clever, good-looking gondoliers. One of them 
must be a fine, rotund, sturdy fellow, a character that 
would suit Rutland Barrington, don't you know ? " 

"Ah yes — that's important — Barrington will be 
rejoining us ; we must certainly find a good model for 
Rutland. He must be a gondolier with a fine voice, 
and know how to use it — but not too much music, 
please ! You won't forget — Barrington " 

" Yes — yes, I know what you were going to say. 
I've got my eyes on two handsome brothers, Giuseppe 
and Mareo Palmieri, the pick and flower of all the 
gondoliers — just the very part for Courtice Pounds 
and Rutland Barrington. Then, next item, half a 


dozen specially selected contadine — must be pretty, 
graceful, able to sing and dance the cachucha, fandango, 
bolero, etc. Having secured all these as patterns 
for our players, we will place them all together in our 
united brain-pans, and, hey presto/ — there we are — 
our dramatis personae are chosen, our plot is laid. It 
may not be a very strong plot." 

" Not as strong as ' The Yeomen's/ I imagine ? " 
queried Sullivan. 

" Well no — perhaps not; but still, let's hope strong 
and coherent enough for our Savoy friends. Then, 
think of the colour i with all these picturesque costumes 
and scenic accessories, what pegs on which you will 
hang some of your daintiest musical morceaux, old 
friend." (Sir William was always a sure prophet !) 

" Yes," replied Sullivan, " I quite appreciate the 
situation. You know how I revel in this glorious 
atmosphere. The man who fails to find inspiration in 
Venice or the Riviera is no artist. He may enjoy being 
punted about in a gondola by moonlight ; he may be 
devoted to these charming contadine ; but, I repeat, 
he is no artist if he does not become inspired as you 
and I must be." 

This brief description of the manner in which the 
plot and story of " The Gondoliers " was conceived 
and worked out may, very likely, not be accepted by 


A talc quite free from every doubt, 
All probable, possible shadow of doubt, 
All possible doubt whatever." 


Well, supposing it is not absolutely authentic, is it not, 
at least, easy to imagine how Gilbert and Sullivan may 
have proceeded on something like the lines we have 
ventured to suggest ? At any rate, " The Gondoliers," 
with the King of Barataria, the Duke and Duchess of 
Plaza-Toro, their daughter, and suite, came to reign 
conjointly at the Savoy, where London play-goers 
hastened to become their faithful and devoted subjects. 

Nobody will want to be told further details of 
Gilbert's strange romance of " The Gondoliers." Pro- 
bably to every reader of this book the bright little 
opera has long been familiar. If not, they and their 
children and their children's children will have many 
an opportunity of making the acquaintance of the 
cheery Venetians, if not at the Savoy, at some other 
theatre of the British Empire, for, if I am not too 
optimistic, " The Gondoliers " and every other of the 
Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire will be running through 
generations yet to come. 

Here is the original cast of— 


As presented at the Savoy Theatre, London, on 
Saturday, December 7th, 1889. 

Dramatis Personae 

The Duke of Plaza-Toro . Mr. Frank Wyatt 

(A Grandee of Spain) 
Luiz .... Mr. Wallace Brownlow 

(His Attendant) 
Don Alhambra Del Bolero . Mr. W. H. Denny 

(The Grand Inquisitor) 


Marco Palmieri . . Mr. Courtice Pounds 

Giuseppe Palmieri . Mr. Rutland Barrington 

Antonio Mr. Metcalf 

Francesco Mr. Rose 

Georgio Mr. De Pledge 

Annibale Mr. Wilbraham 

(Venetian Gondolieri) 
The Duchess of Plaza-Toro Miss Rosina Bran dram 
Casilda Miss Decima Moore 

(Her Daughter) 
Gianetta .... Miss Geraldine Ulmar * 

Tessa Miss Jessie Bond 

Fiametta Miss Lawrence 

Vittoria Miss Cole 

Giulia Miss Phyllis 

Inez Miss Bernard 

(The King's Foster-mother) 

Chorus of Gondoliers and Contadine, Men-at-Arms, Heralds, 

and Pages 

Act I. — The Piaxzetta, Venice 

Act II. — Pavilion in the Palace of Barataria 

The Dresses designed by Mr. Percy Anderson and 
executed by Monsieur Alias, Madame L£on, and Messrs. 
B. J. Simmons & Co. The Dances arranged by Mr. W. 

Conductor . . . Mr. Francois Cellier 

Special interest was attached to the production of 
"The Gondoliers " altogether apart from its own 
qualities as an opera. 

1 The part of Gianetta was later in the run taken by that charming 
artiste. Miss Esther Palliser. 


For the first time since the series of Gilbert and 
Sullivan operas began at the Opera Comique in 
November 1877, the name of George Grossmith was 
absent from the programme. After a period 0! 
twelve years' uninterrupted service and repeated 
triumphs, the popular comedian had grown weary 
of the monotony of long runs. Moreover, he was 
persuaded that, from a financial point of view, he 
could do better for himself as a public entertainer. 
For some time past he had contemplated seceding 
from the I^Oyly Carte management, but had been 
induced to remain at the Savoy for the run of " The 
Yeomen of the Guard/ ' Grossmith can hardly have 
regretted having done so, seeing that in the part of 
"Jack Point" he found wider scope for the display 
of his powers as a real jester of jesters and legitimate 
actor than had ever previously been afforded him. 
When one comes to reflect on the final scene in which 
Grossmith played the chief part on the Savoy stage, the 
refrain of his swan-song, " I have a song to sing, 0," 
mingles with the echo of that livelier ditty, "He 
never would be missed," with which he amused us in 
"The Mikado." If ever Koko had secretly placed 
his own name on that historical list of undesirables, 
the public was not found to endorse such condemna- 
tion. " Gee-Gee " was in truth greatly missed from 
his post of honour in the ranks of the Savoyards. 
Happily, his place was taken by that versatile actor, 
singer, and dancer, Frank Wyatt, who, as the Duke of 
Plaza-Toro, scored an instantaneous success. But 
perhaps the best solatium given for the loss of George 





El ! 



Grossmith was the return to the Savoy of Rutland 
Barrington. The hearty welcome back accorded to the 
favourite Savoyard must have been soothing balm to 
the wounds occasioned by his luckless campaign at 
St. James's Theatre. 

Another new-comer and great acquisition to the 
Savoy company was Miss Decima Moore, who, in the 
part of Casilda, made her first important appearance 
on the London stage, and at once captivated all hearts 
by her sweet singing and winsome personality. 

It is doubtful if the walls of the Savoy had ever 
resounded with such ringing peals of laughter as those 
which greeted the introduction of " The Gondoliers " 
on the first night. A wild thunderstorm of applause 
raged throughout the theatre from rise to fall of curtain. 
At first it was a deep roar of delight, then for a few 
seconds a subdued rumble of restrained mirth ever 
crescendo until it burst again into a louder roar. 
Gilbert had this time provided the Savoyards, both 
before and behind the footlights, with just the very 
feast they were hungry for. The actors, the actresses, 
and the musicians seemed to revel in the humour of 
the play. The audience forgot they were on the banks 
of murky, muddy Thames. Gilbert, the magician, had 
transported them in a body to sunny Venice. 

Plot ! Who worried about a plot ? It was quite joy 
enough to bask beneath Italian skies and watch the 
frolics of those delightfully irresponsible people singing, 
dancing, and indulging in the wittiest conversation 
that even the Savoyards had ever listened to. 

As for Sullivan's music, it could only be likened to a 



moorland stream rippling and leaping in its course 
over the pebbly reaches, pausing anon at the still and 
restful pools of deeper melody, only again to ripple with 
sparkling laughter downwards to the sea. 

"The Gondoliers/' from the gladsome opening 
chorus of Contadine to the Finale, is throughout replete 
with charming variety and striking contrasts. Take, 
for instance, the quaint patter-song of Giuseppe, one 
of the supposititious twin Kings of Barataria, wherein 
he describes the responsibilities of his exalted rank ; 

" Rising early in the morning. 
We proceed to light our fire ; 
Then, our Majesty adorning 
In its work-a-day attire. 

We embark without delay 

On the duties of the day." 

And so on for some sixty lines, each line accompanied 
by some facetious comments from the orchestral 
instruments, and a titter from the audience, who drank 
in every syllable rendered by Rutland Barrington rn 
his own clear, inimitable diction. Close upon this 
follows that Sullivanesque gem of gems, " Take a 
pair of sparkling eyes/ 1 sung by Courtice Pounds with 
all the delicacy and finished art of which he is a past- 

Take, again, the famous Chorus and Cachucha Dance, 
which so fascinates and enraptures an audience that 
they demand and re-demand it again and again until 
the dancers have no breath left to continue singing* 
Then, after Don Alhambra, in a humorous song, has 


pointed a moral to the conjoint Kings to the effect 

u In short, whoever you may be, 
To this conclusion you'll agree — 
When every one is somebodee 
Then no one's anybody " — 

comes that remarkable illustration of masterly con- 
trapuntal composition which only Sullivan could have 
written : 

" In contemplative fashion 

And a tranquil frame of mind. 
Free from every kind of passion. 
Some solution let us find." 

But when every song and concerted number in " The 
Gondoliers " is a joy, the reviewer is too apt to lose his 
way in a maze of delightful memories, and fails to find 
his path out in time to resume the task that still re- 
mains before him in other directions. 

Sullivan, to all seeming, revelled in the composition 
of this, the tenth opera of the famous series. Yet, 
strange to relate, Sir Arthur often declared that " The 
Gondoliers " gave him more trouble to compose than 
any of his previous stage works, not even excepting 
" H.M.S. Pinafore," which he wrote whilst suffering 
all the time with agonies of physical pain. It may 
surprise those who imagine that these light comic 
operas were, to the musician, little more than " pot- 
boilers" to learn that they caused Sullivan far more 
anxious labour and anxiety than his " Martyr of 
Antioch " or" The Golden Legend/ 1 for, as Sir Arthur 


explained, the score of an opera requires so much 
alteration when brought to stage rehearsal. Not 
only has the composer to satisfy the author, but the 
music must fit the singers 9 capabilities, and be set to 
suit every situation ; whereas, in the composition of an 
oratorio, one may " gang his ain gait" guided only by 
his sympathetic muse. 

Such facts are seldom realized by an audience, who, 
if they ever pause to consider the construction of an 
opera, do so only to marvel how the author and com- 
poser have contrived together to make the piece go 
with such smooth, clockwork precision. 

Glancing through a vast collection of press notices 
of " The Gondoliers," I find amid the loud chorus 
of praise one, and one only, discordant note. Again 
it came from the dramatic critic (!) of a sporting 
journal. Could it have been that same perverse 
individual who, as previously related, so utterly 
condemned " Iolanthe" as publicly to confess that he 
would sooner witness a Punch and Judy show at a 
street corner ? It is difficult to believe that any other 
sane person, professing to be a judge of music and the 
drama, could have conscientiously published such a 
scathing " review" as that from which I cannot refrain 
quoting. The critique, be it noted, appeared in print 
some six or seven weeks after the production of " The. 
Gondoliers." It is, in my humble opinion, most 
amusing, if not edifying, reading. 

" Whilst others rush wildly for a first glimpse of the 
latest Gilbert and Sullivan piece, I/' quoth this very 


captious critic, " always put off going as long as I can ; 
I want as much grace as possible Between whiles in 
order to forget the previous production and the pro- 
duction before that. ... I am tired, as an all-round 
play-goer, of the perpetual sameness of the Savoy 
methods ; they weary me to the point of absolute 
dulness. They were well enough when they were 
new, and may be well enough now to those who do not 
go to the theatres very often. . . . I have seen no other 
piece of late which made me feel so little lively, except 
'The Dead Heart' at The Lyceum. I was more 
amused by the public than by the opera. The house 
was crowded, but it seemed to me less like an audience 
than a congregation. They had heard of Gilbert and 
Sullivan, and had come to worship at their shrine as 
they would go on Sunday to sit under Stopf ord Brooke, 
or Dr. Parker, or Mr. Spurgeon. They offered one 
another half their books of the words, as good people 
do when you are put into a strange pew at church. 
What is more, they looked at their books rather than 
at the stage, and followed the songs with awe and the 
singularly wordy dialogues with reverence. Some- 
times they smiled audibly, but not when the author 
was at his best, and occasionally they even laughed 
outright — when the gallery set the example. It was, 
as it were, the adoration by a sect of some prophet 
adopted for the sake of a good character, but known 
very little of personally/' 

And so on, in the same strain for three or four columns. 

Thus, you will observe, the critic launched his 
caustic darts not only at the play, but also at his com- 
panion play-goers, who numbered many hundreds. 

Of course, every play-goer is entitled to his own 
opinion of a play, whether he has paid for his seat or 


been admitted by an order; but I think I shall not 
be singular in my judgment that, when a professed 
critic goes out of his way to condemn works that have 
in the past been so universally approved, and which 
still live to delight the multitude, that critic is unworthy 
of his responsible vocation. Happily, such presump- 
tuous false reports have but slight influence on public 
opinion : a few incontrovertible facts may be men- 
tioned in proof of this, so far as concerns "The 
Gondoliers/ 9 

On the anniversary performance of "The Gon- 
doliers," the theatre was crowded with an audience as 
brilliant, as representative, and as enthusiastic as that 
which had assembled on the first night. On this 
occasion, by the way, the opera was conducted by the 
composer, and every lady in the auditorium was pre- 
sented by the management with a floral bouquet. 

" The Gondoliers " remains to this day one of the 
most popular of the operas played by the D'Oyly Carte 
Opera Company on tour. 

" The Gondoliers " met with the warmest recognition 
of Royalty. The Prince and Princess of Wales, with 
all the Royal Family, paid repeated visits to the Savoy 
during the run of the piece, His Royal Highness ex- 
pressing his opinion that this was the best of the 
Gilbert and Sullivan operas. 

On Friday, March 6th, 1891, a Command Perform- 
ance of " The Gondoliers " was given at Windsor 
Castle before Her Majesty Queen Victoria, this being 
the first theatrical entertainment to take place at Court 
since the death of the Prince Consort 


When the score of " The Gondoliers " was published 
by Chappell & Co., twelve men were kept packing from 
morn till night, and on the first day 20,000 copies 
(eleven wagon loads) of the vocal score alone were 
despatched. But the printing-machines were still kept 
going at high pressure, and the first order executed 
by the publishers, including the pianoforte score, the 
vocal score, the dance, and other arrangements reached 
over 70,000 copies. 

For five hundred and fifty-four consecutive perform- 
ances " The Gondoliers " ran at the Savoy, and brought 
to the managerial exchequer a sum exceeding that 
earned by any preceding opera. 

These few incidental notes I would specially com- 
mend to the writer with whom I have, in the spirit of 
enthusiasm, dared to cross pens. But now, in order 
to remove the smart of any wounds that our duel 
may have inflicted, let me end this chapter with an 
anecdote concerning the composer of "The Gon- 

One evening, Sir Arthur Sullivan, whilst watching 
the performance for a few minutes from the back of 
the dress-circle, thoughtlessly, or " in contemplative 
fashion/' commenced humming the melody of the song 
then being given, whereat a sensitive old gentleman — 
a musical enthusiast — turned angrily to the composer 
and said, " Look here, sir, I paid my money to hear 
Sullivan's music — not yours." Sullivan used often 
to repeat this tale against himself, candidly confessing 
that he well deserved the rebuke. 


The historian's wiser diplomacy: — The rift in the lute-— A storm in a tea- 
cup grows into a serious tempest — The Three Savoyards quarrel 
and go to law — Casus belli : a carpet — Dissolution of partnership 
— Gilbert collaborates with Alfred Cellier on " The Mountebanks " 
— Gilbert's speech at O. P. Club's dinner. 

Napoleon I. used to say "the best diplomacy is 
to speak the truth/ 1 Another great leader of men, 
George Washington/to wit} made it a rule, as we were 
all informed in our youfh, never to tell a lie. Both are 
excellent precepts, no doubt; but perhaps an equally 
wise diplomacy is, whenever it is possible, to keep 
silence concerning any subject about which it may ap- 
pear ungracious to utter a word. Unfortunately, of the 
three suggested courses, the conscientious historian is 
compelled by virtue of his office to observe the Napo- 
leonic code. If his chronicles are to be credited with 
truth, his every chapter may not be couleur de rose. 
He must sometimes allude to unpleasing incidents, 
which have long been the subject of public gossip. 

Every one would have rejoiced, none more than the 
present writer, if the countless happy reminiscences of 
the Savoy might have continued unsullied by the 
shadow of a regret. 

For full fourteen years the brilliant Savoy Trium- 
virate had worked together as harmoniously as success- 



fully. They had given the public ten delightful 
operas, in return for which the public had given each of 
the Trio a fortune far exceeding any that had previ- 
ously been reaped by a theatrical manager, author, or 
composer. It seemed as though death alone could ever 
dissolve so strong and prosperous a partnership. But, 
alas, it was otherwise decreed. 

Whilst "The Gondoliers" was at the flood-tide of 
success it was whispered abroad that the good ship 
of the Savoy had sprung a leak. For a while nobody 
would credit the report. But, if it was true, still it 
was hoped that, sailing as it was in such calm and 
prosperous seas, there was little danger of the vessel's 

Unfortunately, however, two of the chief officers 
had squabbled ; the third could do nothing but stand 
by and endeavour to cast oil upon the troubled waters. 
But all in vain. The rift, instead of being patched up 
and securely caulked, as it might easily have been, was 
allowed to widen into a dangerous rent. Could it be 
believed ? Gilbert and D'Oyly Carte had actually 
quarrelled, whilst Sullivan, although he took no active 
part in the dispute, was compelled to adhere to one 
side or the other. Believing Gilbert to be the ag- 
gressor, Sullivan decided to abide by Carte. 

" And what/ 1 it will be asked, " what was it all 
about ? " 

The answer is, Next to nothing ! A storm had burst 
in a tea-cup. A little more of the sugar of mutual 
regard, a few added drops of the milk of human kind- 
ness, and all bitterness would have been removed from 


the cup. But, unhappily, Mr. Gilbert was possessed 
of a will that could never brook opposition and a temper 
that he could not always control. And so the breeze 
that had sprung up increased to a gale, and the gallant 
pleasure-ship was eventually stranded. 

All the world wondered ! Varied and vague were the 
stories set afloat ; but, perhaps, none more absurd or 
incredible than the true story which, seeing it was such 
a momentous incident in the history of the Savoy, 
may not here be passed over in silence. The casus 
belli was — a carpet ! 

It appears that Mr. D'Oyly Carte, as duly authorized 
business manager of the firm, conceived it to be, not 
only politic, but right and proper, to minister to the 
comfort of clients through whose patronage and support 
their business had thrived so remarkably. Accordingly 
Mr. Carte purchased, among sundry other items of 
furniture for the renewal and repair of the theatre, a 
carpet. The carpet, et cetera, were in the usual course 
charged to the joint account. Sir Arthur Sullivan, 
on his part, raised no objection to the outlay, and, for 
the sake of peace, did his utmost to persuade Mr. 
Gilbert to take a similar view of the matter. But 
Mr. Gilbert remained obdurate in his opposition to 
such lavish expenditure. He was of opinion that a 
new carpet, costing £140, would not draw an extra 
sixpence into the exchequer, that the theatre was so 
crowded nightly that no one could possibly tell or care 
a jot how the floor was covered. Mr. Gilbert thought 
it was sheer waste of money. He was then politely 
reminded that, by the terms of their partnership agree- 


ment, he had no voice in the matter. Whereupon our 
author waxed exceeding wroth, went to law against 
his old friends and comrades, and, parting company 
with the Savoyards, formed a troupe of clever " Mounte- 
banks," and became their chief conjointly with one of 
the most delightful of Bohemians, most amiable of men 
and most charming of composers — whose name was 
Alfred Cellier. 

Thus the great Savoy partnership was dissolved in 
the hey-day of its success. Great was the consterna- 
tion, bitter the regret that spread throughout the 
dramatic and musical world. 

But now, with all gladness, let \is hasten to leap over 
the dull period of a few years to find The Three reunited 
at the Savoy, where, in October 1893, their twelfth 
opera " Utopia Limited/' was produced, to the delight 
of all Savoyards. 

Before proceeding to deal with events and incidents 
that occupied what may be described as the Gilbert 
and Sullivan interregnum at the Savoy, it may be 
pleasing to all if this chapter of unhappy memories 
is brought to a close with a quotation from a speech 
made by Sir William Gilbert at a dinner given on 
December 30th, 1906, by the O. P. Club, under the 
presidency of Mr. Carl Hentschel, founder of the club. 
The feast was organized specially to celebrate the 
revival of the operas at the Savoy. 

Speaking in response to the toast in his honour, 
Sir William said : 


The magnificent compliment paid him that evening 


D'Oyly Carte's difficult position — Sullivan collaborates with Sydney 
Grundy— Production of " Nautch Girl" — Carte's generalship— 
" The Vicar of Bray " revived—" Mountebanks " produced at the 
Lyric Theatre— Alfred Cellier's illness and death— Letter from 
Arthur Sullivan to Francis CeUier— " Haddon Hall "— Sullivan 
welcomed back — Sydney Grundy's lyrics — The McCrankie— Scotch 
dialect in English Opera — Prejudice of Savoyards — Sydney Grundy 
writes to the papers — Successful run of " Haddon Hall." 

With the dissolution of the Savoy partnership, Mr. 
D'Oyly Carte found himself in a position as unenviable 
as that of the Commander-in-Chief of an army corps 
who has lost one of his most valued and reliable generals 
of division — Gilbert had resigned his post, and Sullivan, 
although he still remained faithful to the Savoy, was 
without a libretto, and at a loss to discover a librettist 
After a while, however, Sydney Grundy, one of the ablest 
and most scholarly of contemporary English drama- 
tists, supplied the composer with an acceptable " book/ 1 
Thereupon Sir Arthur commenced setting " Haddon 
Hall/ 1 

But, seeing that it must be a long time before the 
Grundy-Sullivan opera would be ripe for production, 
D'Oyly Carte, before the termination of " The Gon- 
doliers run, made a gallant attempt to find a piece 
that might cany on the traditions of his theatre; 
ultimately he accepted a new opera called "The 





Nautch Girl/' written by George Dance, with lyrics 
by Frank Desprez (author of several clever " curtain- 
raisers " at the Savoy), and the music by Edward 
Solomon, a composer of great popularity in his brief 
day, a musician possessed of the gift of tunefulness 
with more than an average measure of fanciful and in- 
genious power of orchestration. Obviously it was a 

* very thankless, invidious task for any author or com- 
l poser to be called upon to follow Gilbert and Sullivan 
£ at the Savoy. But here Mr. Carte's clever generalship 

* was displayed. He recognized in Dance and Solomon 

* apt disciples of Gilbert and Sullivan, and deemed it 
wise to entrust his interests to such men rather than 

I to those who might take a wide departure from the 
Savoy line of humour. 
The general opinion expressed regarding "The 

\ Nautch Girl" on its production on June 30th, 1891, 
was to the effect that the Dance-Solomon work, al- 
though inferior to, was none the less a very acceptable 
substitute for, an opera by the more celebrated colla- 
borators upon whose style it was fashioned. The 
strong family likeness noticeable between " The Nautch 
Girl" and some of its predecessors at the Savoy was 
intensified by the presence in the cast of some of the 
famous Savoyards of the old brigade : notably Rut- 
land Bar ring ton (admirably fitted with a part as the 
Rajah of Chutneypore), Jessie Bond, Courtice Pounds, 
Frank Thornton, and W. H. Denny: A notable new- 
comer to the Savoy was Miss Leonora Snyder, a sweet- 
voiced American soprano whom D'Oyly Carte had 
chanced upon in New York. 






" The Nautch Girl " enjoyed a prosperous run of 
199 performances, and on January 29th, 1892, Mr. 
Carte revived Solomon's opera, " The Vicar of Bray," l 
which not long previously had achieved success at 
another theatre. In this piece we were introduced to 
another clerical incumbent of the Savoy stage. If 
not altogether as popular as Dr. Daly, D.D., of " The 
Sorcerer," yet the character afforded Rutland Bar- 
rington further opportunity of poking fun at a dignitary 
of the rival profession in his own inimitable and pardon- 
ably irreverent way. It might, with truth, be re- 
marked that the clever Savoy comedian became, by the 
versatility of his art, the prototype of that historical 
Vicar of Bray who gained preferment through being 
all things to all, men, no matter what king, Gilbert or a 
lesser monarch, might reign at the Savoy. 

Following the exit of " The Vicar,' ' on June 10th, 
1892, the doors of the Savoy remained closed for a 
period of three months, such a lengthy interval never 
having occurred since the opening of the theatre in 1881. 

To turn now, for a moment, to consider what Gilbert 
had been doing since he quitted the Savoy ; as men- 
tioned in the last preceding chapter, Sir Arthur Sulli- 
van's former colleague had turned to Alfred Cellier 
to compose the music of his new piece, " The Mounte- 
banks," which opera was produced at the Lyric 
Theatre under the management of Mr. Horace Sedger, 
on Monday, January 4th, 1892. That event, it may 
perhaps be remarked, comes hardly within the strict 
bounds of Savoy reminiscences. Nevertheless, if we re- 

1 Written by Sydney Grundy. 


member how "The Mountebanks" was the creation of 
one of the three famous Savoyards in collaboration with 
the clever composer who, in the earliest days of the 
Gilbert and Sullivan operas, aided their cause by his 
valued service as musical director — it would be less 
reasonable here to omit than to include reference to the 
Lyric Theatre's production. The mention of Alfred 
Cellier* s final composition will awaken in the minds of 
many of his surviving friends memories sad and painful. 
All will recollect how, when his heavy task approached 
completion, Cellier was overtaken by a mortal sickness 
against which he fought with heroic courage. Com- 
pelled by physical suffering and weakness to lay aside 
his pen at intervals, he persevered with indomitable 
pluck until his undertaking was accomplished. Little 
did the audience who listened with delight to the 
sparkling melodies of " The Mountebanks " imagine 
that they were the composition of a dying man. But 
so it proved — Alfred Cellier had given to the world his 
" swan-song." 

I recall the hour when poor Alfred Cellier — one of 
my dearest friends — worn out with the toil and ex- 
citement of a lengthy rehearsal, sought my companion- 
ship at a little club where we used to foregather. 
There, falling upon a couch at my side, he gave way 
to a painful fit of hysteria — sure sign of exhausted 
strength. Alfred Cellier, alas! was not spared to 
witness the success of his final work. Almost on the 
eve of the production of " The Mountebanks " one 
of the noblest-hearted and most unostentatious of 
men was carried to his last earthly resting-place in 


Norwood Cemetery. Among letters cherished and 
bequeathed by Alfred CeUiefs brother Francois, is 
one which I have been privileged to read. It came from 
Sir Arthur Sullivan, who, on hearing of Alfred's death, 
wrote from Paris on December 29th, 1892, thus : 

" Dear Frank, 

" I can hardly see the paper for the tears which 
are in my eyes at the dreadful news just received by 
telegram. Poor dear old Alfred ! my old school-fellow 
and friend ! the most lovable creature in the world " 

Every one who knew Alfred Cellier will endorse those 
sentiments, that came from the depths of Arthur 
Sullivan's heart. Marvellous was the similarity in 
natural disposition of our two greatly beloved English 


. • • • 

Let us now bring back our " reminiscences " to the 

On Saturday, September 24th, 1892, Mr. D'Oyty 
Carte presented — if one may use the Frohmannic 
phrase, unknown in Victorian days — " the light English 
opera in three acts, entitled, f Haddon Hall/ written 
by Sydney Grundy, composed by Arthur Sullivan/' 
The company included several old-established and 
popular Savoyards ; the cast and programme of the 
opera read as follows : 


John Manners . . . Mr. Courtice Pounds 
Sir George Vernon , , , Me* Richard GugEN 



Oswald . Mr. Charles Kenningham 

Rupert Vernon . ♦ Mr. Rutland Barrington 

The McCrankie .... Mr. W. H. Denny 
Sing-song Simeon . . Mr. Rudolph Lewis 

Kill-joy Candleman . . Mr. W. H. L^on 

Nicodemus Knock-knee . . . Mr. A. Fowles 
Barnabas Bellows-to-mend . . Mr. G. de Pledge 

Major-domo Mr. H. Gordon 

Dorothy Vernon ♦ ♦ Miss Lucille Hill 

Lady Vernon Miss Rosina Brandrah 

Dorcas Miss Dorothy Vane 

Nance Miss Nita Cole 

Gertrude Miss Claribel Hyde 

Deborah « . . . Miss Florence Easton 

Chorus of Simples and Gentles 

ACT I.— The Lovers 

Scene.— The Terrace (W. Telbin) 

" The green old turrets, all ivy thatch, 
Above the cedars that girdle them rise, 
The pleasant glow of the sunshine catch, 
And outline sharp on the bluest of skies. 


ACT II.— The Elopement 

Scene I. — Dorothy Vernon's Door (Hawes Craven) 

" It is a night with never a star, 

And the hall with revelry throbs and gleams ; 
There grates a hinge — the door is ajar — 
And a shaft of light in the darkness streams." 

SCENE ll,-~The Long Gallery (J. Harker) 


ACT m.— The Return 

Scene. — The Ante-chamber (W. Perkins) 

Note. — The dock of Time has been put forward a century, 
and other liberties have been taken with history. 

The Opera produced under the Stage-direction of Mr. 
Charles Harris and the Musical Direction of Mr. Francois 
Cellier. The Dances arranged by Mr. John D'Auban. 
The Costumes designed by Mr. Pfercy Anderson and 
executed by Madame Auguste, Madame L6on 9 Mr. B. J. 
Simmons, Messrs. Angel & Son, and M. Alias. Wigs by 
Clarkson. Properties by Mr. Skelly. Stage Machinist, 
Mr. Peter White. 

It is more easy to imagine than describe the scene 
of enthusiastic welcome that greeted the return of 
Sir Arthur Sullivan to the Savoy. Mingled with the 
usual loyal sentiments of admiration and regret was a 
large measure of sympathy with the maestro in the 
trouble and anxiety he had endured through the loss 
of his valued coadjutor. Exceptional also was the 
interest attached to the advent of the new librettist, 
and hardly less was the confidence shown that, in 
Sydney Grundy, Arthur Sullivan had chosen a worthy 
collaborator. Another Gilbert was not looked for; 
neither was any imitation of the Gilbertian style ex- 
pected from an author who had already won high 
reputation by the distinct originality and clever con- 
struction of his stage-plays. Every play-goer felt 
confident that whatever Grundy had to say would, so 
far as touched dialogue, be worth listening to. As 
regards the lyrics, the composer was, surely, the best 



judge of their merit ; it was enough that Sullivan had 
found them acceptable. 

Accordingly, it was with pleasant anticipation that 
the Savoyards crowded into the theatre to obtain a 
first view of " Haddon Hall." If at curtain-fall their 
brightest hopes had not been fully realized, neither the 
critics nor the general public found cause for dissatis- 
faction with the new bill of fare set before them. Per 
haps the style of the orthodox dramatist appeared 
somewhat too old-fashioned for the unconventional 
Savoy. Grundy* s story bore the flavour of Harrison 
Ainsworth, and although, according to a note printed 
in the programme, "The clock of time has been put 
forward a century, and other liberties taken with his- 
tory," the Royalists and Roundheads and Puritans of 
the prescribed period were not sufficiently advanced in 
their views and dispositions to win the ardent affec- 
tions of players, especially Savoyards, towards the end 
of the nineteenth century. 

Another feature of Grundy s play not reconcilable 
with every one's taste was the obtrusive Scot, " The 
McCrankie from the Isle of Rum." Admirably as the 
character was impersonated by W. H. Denny, Mc- 
Crankie became a wee bit o' a nuisance. To many in an 
audience the Scotch dialect in a light English opera is 
as unacceptable as the screak of bagpipes in a London 
drawing-room. It is, of course, simply a matter of 
taste. Still, the wisest policy of a playwright is to 
cater for the majority. 

But, after all, if the truth were known, the chief fault 
found in "Haddon Hall" was that it was another 


G. and S. opera, but that the G. stood not, this time, 
for Gilbert, but Grundy. Few play-goers have been 
so blinded by prejudice as the Savoyards. 

Gilbert and Sullivan were their idols; they could 
worship none other. Touching this point, and the 
attitude of the critics, Sydney Grundy, stout, honest, 
British dramatic yeoman that he ever was, let fly a 
" telling " shot in a very caustic letter to the papers. 
Thus wrote the author of " Haddon Hall" : 

" Sir, 

"As a humble but sympathetic student of 
dramatic and musical criticism may I venture to 
suggest that a short bill be introduced into Parliament 
making it a penal offence to supply the Savoy theatre 
with a libretto ? Having regard to the magnitude of 
the crime, the punishment, which, of course, should 
be capital, might be made at the same time ignomini- 
ous and painful. Should the libretto be so impertinent 
as to be successful, I would respectfully suggest 
' something lingering with boiling oil in it/ if so humble 
a person as I may be permitted a quotation. 

Yours, etc., 

" Sydney Grundy." 

But, despite all " irreconcilable antagonism/' Grun- 
dy's " Haddon Hall " proved sufficiently attractive to 
fill the Savoy Theatre for no fewer than 204 perform- 
ances. At any other theatre it might have achieved 
still greater success. "Haddon Hall" remains a 
popular favourite with amateur societies, and its revival 
on the London stage might be interesting and re- 
munerative. As regards the music ; Sullivan proved 

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that, although no longer coupled in harness with a 
lyric steed of the same high mettle and spirit as the 
one with whom he had been running for fifteen years, 
his muse, instead of turning sulky, was as bright as 
ever, and continued to carry the composer along in 
the same ceaseless, unbroken canter, leaving behind 
him as he went the echo of sweet melodies. 


M Jane Annie " — J. M. Barrie and A. Conan Doyle— The historian's 
thankless task — Ernest Ford's music — The master and the student 
—Cast of " Jane Annie "—Caledonian golfers—" Bunker " and 
" bunkum " — Gilbert and Sullivan, reunited, start work on a new 
opera — General rejoicings. 

Next on the list of Savoy productions came a piece 
called "Jane Annie, or the Good Conduct Prize." 
Such a title might lead one to suppose that it was a 
farcical comedy. It was nothing of the sort, it was 
labelled, " A new and original English Comic Opera," 
bearing the names of J. M. Barrie and A. Conan Doyle 
as the authors and Ernest Ford as composer. Re- 
miniscences of "Jane Annie" are not, altogether, 
of the most agreeable kind. To the present genera- 
tion who, probably, have never heard of " Jane Annie " 
of the Savoy, it will sound like heresy to speak in 
derogatory terms of any work by such distinguished 
knights of the pen as the present Sir James Matthew 
Barrie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. But those 
among us of riper years who have followed with 
interest the respective careers of those two richly 
gifted writers, and who, during the past quarter of a 
century or more, have enjoyed the many delightful 
fruits of their genius, can only pause to wonder if it 



can be true that the J. M. Barrie who gave the stage 
" The Little Minister " in 1897 and " Peter Pan " in 
1904, to be brought back to cheer us at every sue- I 

ceeding Christmas-tide, was the very same J. M. j 

Barrie who wrote " Jane Annie " in 1893 ; and can it 
be possible that his collaborator in that weird, ama- 
teurish effusion was, in very truth, the same A, Conan 
Doyle who amazed our seven senses with " The Ad- 
ventures of Sherlock Holmes" in 1891, who con- 
tributed to the stage " A Story of Waterloo," that 
charming, dramatic sketch that helped the fame of 
Henry Irving in 1900 ? 

Can, we ask ourselves again, can the part-author 
of "Jane Annie" have been that delightful story- 
teller who has enriched our libraries with scores of 
volumes of romance, novels, poems, and songs that 
will live ? If one trusted to memory alone, doubt on 
the subject might yet prevail, but there, on the Savoy 
playbills, in cold print we read, " Jane Annie, or the 
Good Conduct Prize," written by J. M. Barrie and 
A. Conan Doyle. I doubt not that both authors 
would be thankful if every record of that abortive 
Savoy opera might be committed to the flames. Per- 
haps they would have thought it kinder and more 
considerate on the part of the present writer to leave 
their ill-fated heroine alone and undisturbed in her 
unhallowed grave. Fain would he have done so, but 
the obligation, sometimes an ungracious one, of the 
historian is to chronicle, without fear or favour, all 
incidents relating to the subject in hand. Hence poor, 
hapless " Jane Annie " is dragged perforce into the 


varied chronicles of the Savoy. The best atonement 
that can be offered for seeming disrespect shown to 
the greatly respected authors will be to say nothing 
further about a work which they themselves would be 
ready to confess was unworthy of their pens. 

Unfortunately, again, the praise to be bestowed 
upon the music of " Jane Annie " must be qualified 
Mr. Ernest Ford won considerable reputation as a 
clever musician, and since he was, if I remember 
rightly, a pupil of Sir Arthur Sullivan's, it is easy to 
understand how he became so inoculated with his 
master's manner and themes that he could not tear 
himself away from them far enough to allow him to 
give rein to his own imaginative powers as a com- 
poser. True, Sullivan was a perfect model for a 
student to copy, but a too close copy of the master was 
less than acceptable, especially to Savoyards. Taken 
altogether, "Jane Annie" was the most perplexing 
phenomenon ever presented by D'Oyly Carte's man- 
agement. For once the usually wide-awake impresario 
must have been caught napping when he accepted 
and produced such a poor, vapid, uninteresting work. 

For the sake of reference we append a list of the 
dramatis per son as of — 


A Proctor . Mr. Rutland Barrington 
Sim .... Mr. Lawrence Grindley 
Greg Mr. Walter Passmore 

Tom Mr. Charles Kenningham 

(A Prtss Student) 

"JANE ANNIE " 305 

Jack Mr. Scott Fishe 

(A Warrior) 
Caddie . . . . Master Harry Rignold 

(A Page) 
First Student . . . Mr. Bowden Haswell 
Second Student . Mr. Herbert Crimp 

Third Student Mr. Sidwell Jones 

Miss Sims . Miss Rosina Brandram 

(A Schoolmistress) 
Jane Annie *. . . Miss Dorothy Vane 

(A Good Girt) 
Bab Miss Decima Moore 

(A Bad Girl) 

Milly Miss Florence Perry 

Rose Miss Emmie Owen 

Meg Miss Jose Shalders 

Maud Miss May Bell 

(Average Girls) 

Schoolgirls, Press Students, and Lancers 

Produced ufider the Stage Direction of Mr. Charles 
Harris, and the Musical Direction of Mr. Francois Cellier. 

The Scene is obviously laid round the corner from a 
certain English University Town. 

Act I. — First Floor of a Seminary for the Little Things 
that grow into Women. (Mr. W. Perkins.) 

There will be an interval of about twenty minutes 
between the Acts. 

Act II. — A Ladies' Golf Green near the Seminary. (Mr. 
W. Telbin.) 

Time.— The Present 
One night elapses between the Acts. 

" Jane Annie " languished on for fifty days before 
departing this life on July 1st, 1893, lamented by a 


select clan of true and faithful Caledonian golf en- 
thusiasts, who had found "prodeegious" diversion in 
cheering the several humorous allusions to " caddies' 1 
and " niblicks/' " drivers" and " putters/' with which 
the opera was enlivened. To those of the audiences 
uninitiated in the noble game of golf the word " bunker" 
sounded so much like " bunkum " as to tickle their 
risible faculties. But, of course, that last remark is 

intended as a " stage aside/' 

• • • • • 

After the demise of poor " Jane Annie " the Savoy 
Theatre was again closed for three months. During 
the interval desponding Savoyards were cheered by 
the glad tidings that all estrangement between Gilbert 
and Sullivan had disappeared. It became known that 
Sir Arthur, having recovered from an alarming illness, 
was now, in the seclusion of his home at Weybridge, 
busy at work on the composition of a new Gilbertian 
comic opera, and that his old friend and colleague, 
who had been at Homburg to get rid of the gout, had 
returned to Grim's Dyke, his lovely home at Harrow 
Weald. Both giants were reported to be thoroughly 
refreshed and in full vigour, armed and ready to enter 
upon another campaign on the field of their many 
past victories. Thus the hopes of their faithful fol- 
lowers were to be realized. The ending of much 
despair had come. 

Although two years had passed since the unhappy 
break-up of the Triumvirate, not a few of the most 
devoted admirers of the renowned three had clung 
stedfastly to the belief that Gilbert, Sullivan, and 


D'Oyly Carte must eventually come together again. 
It had been proved beyond doubt that the author 
and composer were essential to each other; that, 
united, they prospered, divided they fell ! D'Oyly 
Carte too, despite his heroic efforts, had found that 
only Gilbert and Sullivan could fill the Savoy. 

It was no reflection on the skill and ability of those 
other clever authors and composers whose works had 
in turn been exploited by the enterprising manager 
during the interregnum. Each, whilst acting in the 
thankless post of locum tenens, had yielded of his best, 
and, generally, the best had been very good, but not 
precisely to the fastidious taste of the Savoyards. 

Since the withdrawal of " The Gondoliers" in June 
1891, there had been more frost than sunshine sur- 
rounding Mr. Carte's pretty theatre; ghosts of de- 
parted joys had intruded to mar the merriment of 
Savoy audiences. But now the spring was returning, 
the singing of birds would soon be heard by Thames 
Embankment. As, day by day, there appeared pre- 
liminary paragraphs in the papers confirming the first 
report and adding particulars, reliable and otherwise, 
of the rapprochement which had been brought about, 
players declared it was " quite like old times." Soon 
it became known that rehearsals had actually begun ; 
that a remarkably gifted American soprano had been 
engaged as prima donna, and that the names of 
several old Savoy favourites were included in the cast 
of the new opera. Truly, it was the most gladsome 
news that had come to arouse the lethargic theatrical 
world for many a long day. Intense was the excite- 


ment, unprecedented the rush of applicants for first- 
night seats. That unholy carpet, with all the trouble 
it had occasioned, was trodden upon and obliterated 
from memory. Gilbert, Sullivan, and D'Oyly Carte 
smiled again, and England rejoiced. No happier 
event in the eventful annals of the Savoy could ever 
be chronicled than the re-enthronement of the popular 
monarchs in October 1893. 


Reunion of the three Savoyard Chiefs— -Their " welcome home " at 
the Savoy — Production of Utopia — Another topsy-turvy piece-— 
" Old fashioned " Savoy opera proves acceptable — Samples of 
Gilbert's song-words— Another tenor comedian — A Gilbertian 

A red-letter day in the calendar of the Savoy was 
Saturday, October 7th, 1893. " There was a sound 
of revelry by night" which shook the walls of the 
re-lighted playhouse. It was the great re-gathering 
of the clans, the glad reunion of Savoyards. 

To inaugurate the event, the popular lever-de- 
rideau concerts were revived by the pit and gallery 
chorus. Society in the stalls and boxes was enter- 
tained, as in the old days, with reminiscences of 
" H.M.S. Pinafore/' " The Pirates," " Patience," and 
" Iolanthe." Even the critics threw off their masks 
of apathetic unconcern and abandoned that air of 
boredom common to the cult. The most profound 
and solemn academic was seen to smile and exchange 
an affable nod with the distinguished somebodies that 
crowded the theatre. Everybody said to every other 
body, " Isn't it a treat ? " And all before the opera had 
begun ! Although the leading press representatives 
had been present at the dress rehearsal the day before, 
they one and all seemed glad to have been invited to 
sit the piece out a second time, if only to discover 



whether the public would endorse or controvert the 
reviews they had already prepared for publication. 

All the familiar scenes of a Savoy premUn were 
re-enacted, but enthusiasm on this occasion seemed 
to be accentuated. The audience resembled a ship's 
company who, just come off a long voyage, half starved 
on salt junk and weevilled biscuits, look forward with 
greed to a good, square meal ashore. 

But now the well-known form of Sir Arthur Sullivan 
is seen creeping bashfully, it may be nervously, through 
the dim, cellar-like opening from beneath the stage to 
the front of the orchestra. The beloved maestro looks 
pale and worn by recent illness and the fag of long 
rehearsals, but once again, with characteristic modesty, 
patience, and indomitable pluck, he faces the host of 
his faithful worshippers. In response to their cheers 
of welcome Sir Arthur bows, and bows, and bows 
again until at length, in very pity for him, the cry of 
" Hush ! " subdues the frantic shouts of delight 
The overture begins ; after a few opening bars, my 
neighbour on the right nudges me and whispers, " The 
same good old Sullivan." " Yes," I whisper back, "it 
is the master's voice/' whereat my neighbour on the 
left, whispers " H'sh ! " One is afraid to breathe, a 
cough would bring down frowns from every part of 
the house . The stillness of enchantment reigns through- 
out the playing of the overture. There is no mistaking 
the maker's name on the fabric of the music. It bears 
the hall-mark of excellence. The shuttle is flying 
through warp and woof, weaving the texture of pure, 
silver melody ; the overture ends. Another volley of 


UTOPIA " 311 

cheers from the front ! we open the book of the words 
of "Utopia Limited, or The Flowers of Progress/' 
The amber satin curtains part, revealing a beautiful 
palm-grove in the gardens of King Paramount' s Palace. 
There we are introduced to a group of lovely maidens, 
who bear a strong resemblance to those we remember 
meeting in "Iolanthe" and " Patience.' ' They are 
lying lazily about the stage and enjoying themselves 
in lotus-eating fashion the while they sing a dreamy 
opening chorus, a lyric essentially Gilbertian and 

" In lazy languor, motionless, 
We lie and dream of nothingness : 
For visions come 
From Poppydom 

Direct at our command : 
Or, delicate alternative, 
In open idleness we live. 
With lyre and lute 
And silver flute, 

The life of lazyland ! 

Solo.— Phylla 

" The song of birds 

In ivied towers ; 

The rippling play 
Of waterway ; 
The lowing herds ; 

The breath of flowers ; 
The languid loves 
Of turtle-doves — 
These simple joys are all at hand 
Upon thy shores, O Lazyland." 

(Loud applause and cries of " Encore") 


A few words of dialogue spoken by a minor character 
indicate at once that our author has remained faithful 
to his own familiar vein of facetious humour. We are 
assured that Gilbert's quiver has been refilled with 
keen, pointed shafts of good-humoured satire, and we 
know he is going to launch them against his own 
country, or, rather, against the super-pride, the mock- 
heroic sentiments of his English compatriots— we 
recognize his aim at once : 

Calynx. Good news ! Great news ! His Majesty's 
eldest daughter, Princess Zara, who left our shores five 
years since to go to England — the greatest, the most 
powerful, the wisest country in the world — has taken 
a high degree at Girt on, and is on her way home again, 
having achieved a complete mastery over all the 
elements that have tended to raise that glorious 
country to her present pre-eminent position among 
civilized nations ! 

Salata. Then in a few months Utopia may hope 
to be completely Anglicized ? 

Calynx. Absolutely and without a doubt. 

Melene. (Lazily.) We are very well as we are. Life 
without a care — every want supplied by a kind and 
fatherly monarch, who, despot though he be, has no 
other thought than to make his people happy — what 
have we to gain by the great change that is in store 
for us ? 

Salata. What have we to gain ? English institu- 
tions, English tastes, and — oh, English fashions ! 

Calynx. England has made herself what she is 
because, in that favoured land, every one has to think 
for himself. Here we have no need to think, because 
our monarch anticipates all our wants, and our 
political opinions are formed for us by the journals 


to which we subscribe. Oh, think how much more 
brilliant this dialogue would have been if we had been 
accustomed to exercise our reflective powers I They 
say that in England the conversation of the very 
meanest is a coruscation of impromptu epigram ! 

It is enough. We perceive that Gilbert is looking 
upon England and English institutions through the 
green spectacles of a jealous foreigner. His intention 
is to pour ridicule upon the Jingoism of the average 
Briton, and we know that Gilbert will succeed where 
any other author, daring the attempt, would come to 
utter grief. 

Some of us may feel inclined to cry, " Shame on 
such unpatriotism ! " whilst all the time we laugh and 
applaud and say to ourselves, " After all, it sounds 
very much like the truth, and Gilbert has such a 
clever knack of swamping nasty grey powders in nice 
black-currant jam." 

Gilbert, Sullivan, and D'Oyly Carte had, of course, 
read in the papers, from time to time, such uncom- 
plimentary, discouraging remarks as, for instance, 
" Surely we have had enough of these topsy-turvy 
operas — when is the nauseating stuff to be put a stop 
to ? " But the three Savoyards knew their public 
better, and were satisfied that if, indeed, anybody 
was nauseated, it was not by the fare provided at the 
Savoy, but by the weakness of the digestive organs 
of a few lack-a-daisical individuals, who failed to 
appreciate the dainty dishes set before them. In other 
words, they had no sense of humour. Mr. Carte was 
assured that a vast majority of his patrons preferred 


what they now began to call the " old-fashioned Savoy 
operas" to any of that other sort which he had lately 
been exploiting, and so he was only too glad when 
Gilbert and Sullivan provided him with yet another 
topsy-turvy piece, perhaps the topsy-turvyest piece 
they had ever produced. 

The remarkable reception accorded to "Utopia" 
confirmed the wisdom of the managerial policy. This, 
the twelfth Gilbert and Sullivan opera, was generally 
acknowledged to be one of the best of the series. The 
subject gave Gilbert fine scope for skittish treatment. 
Our author could hardly have conceived a funnier idea 
than that of the King of some sea-girt isle, unmarked 
in any chart or map, a fantastic monarch who, having 
determined to adopt the manners and customs, the fads 
and fashions, of " the greatest, the most powerful, the 
wisest country in the world," sends his daughter to 
Girton to study the elements that have tended to raise 
England to her proud position. 

In grotesque characterization, in mirthful situations, 
in wit and humour of dialogue and graceful rhythmic 
song words, Gilbert proved that he ha.d not yet ex- 
hausted the resources of his peculiar genius. The 
interval of rest away from the theatre had, it seemed, 
refreshed his muse, and although, at the early re- 
hearsals of the play, the author, still suffering from 
gout, had to be wheeled about the stage in a bath- 
chair, the perfect production of the new opera testified 
that Gilbert remained without a rival in the skill of 

Those of my readers to whom " Utopia " is an un- 

" UTOPIA " 315 

known quantity would very likely be glad to be told 
something further about the eccentric King Para- 
mount, who sought to remodel his Court on the cere- 
monial lines of the Court of St. James's ; but the story 
would appear insipid and uninteresting unless told in 
Gilbert's own inimitable way. 

The best that can be done here is to quote a few 
samples of the dialogue and lyrics, from which some 
idea may be gathered of the plot and incidents of the 
piece, of the quality of the stanzas which inspired 
Sullivan to draw from his inexhaustible well of melody 
some of the sweetest conceptions. 

Let us take, first, a duet between Nekaya and 
Kalyba, the twin daughters of King Paramount, girls 
about fifteen years old, who have been " finished " by 
" a grave, and good, and gracious English lady, and 
are now to be exhibited in public" that all may learn 
what, from the English standpoint, is looked upon as 
maidenly perfection. 

In very modest and demure manner they stand with 
their hands folded and their eyes cast down as they 
introduce themselves thus : 

Both. Although of native maids the cream, 
We're brought up on the English scheme — 
The best of all, 
For great and small. 
Who modesty adore. 

Nek. For English girls are good as gold, 
Extremely modest (so we're told), 
Demurely coy— divinely cold — 

Kal. And we are that — and more. 
To please papa, who argues thus — 


All girls should mould themselves on us, 
Because we are. 
By furlongs far. 

The best of all the bunch. 
We show ourselves to loud applause 
From ten to four without a pause— 
Nek. Which is an awkward time because 
It cuts into our lunch. 

Both. Oh, maids of high and low degree, 
Whose social code is rather free, 
Please look at us and you will see 
What good young ladies ought to be ! 
Nek. And as we stand, like clockwork toys, 
A lecturer whom papa employs 
Proceeds to praise 
Our modest ways 

And guileless character — 
Kal. Out well-known blush— our downcast eyes — 
Our famous look of mild surprise 
Nek. (Which competition still defies) 
Kal. Our celebrated ' Sir ! ! ! ' 
Then all the crowd take down our looks 
In pocket memorandum-books. 
To diagnose 
Our modest pose 

The Kodaks do their best : 
Nek. If evidence you would possess 
Of what is maiden bashfulness, 
You only need a button press — 
Kal. And we do all the rest. 

Gilbert's faith in the histrionic capabilities of tenors, 
as a body, was not great ; yet, strange to tell, he some- 
times entrusted to the leading tenor some of the most 
comical "business" of the piece, with song- words of 
such subtle wit as to require a singer possessed of a 


fall sense of humour to give adequate point to them. 
This paradoxical feature of Gilbertian methods was 
notably illustrated in " Ruddigore," where, as we have 
seen, a broad comedian rdle was admirably played by 
Durward Lely. 

And now, again, in " Utopia " the usually conven- 
tional sentimental love-scene between the principal 
tenor and the prima donna was so humorous as to 
call forth laughter as spontaneous as any heard 
throughout the opera. The author's words may, 
indeed, have been the chief factor of the fun, but they 
needed a comedian to turn them to good account, and 
Mr. Charles Kenningham, the Savoy tenor of that 
period, proved himself an excellent comedian. But 
then, it must be remembered how Gilbert possessed 
the faculty of transforming any sort of vocalist — aye, 
even a "tenor-stick" — into a competent actor. But 
in order that what I am trying to convey may be the 
better understood, the song and the scene in question 
are here presented. It occurs at the opening of the 
second act : 


" Oh Zara, my beloved one, bear with me ! 
Ah, do not laugh at my attempted C ! 
Repent not, mocking maid, thy girlhood's choice— 
The fervour of my love affects my voice ! 


" A tenor, all singers above 

(This doesn't admit of a question), 

Should keep himself quiet, 

Attend to his diet, 
And carefully nurse his digestion ; 


But when he is madly in love 

It's certain to tell on his singing — 
You can't do chromatics 
With proper emphatics, 

When anguish your bosom is wringing ! 
When distracted with worries in plenty, 
And his pulse is a hundred and twenty, 
And his fluttering bosom the slave of mistrust is, 
A tenor can't do himself justice. 

Now observe — (sings a high note), 
You see, I can't do myself justice ! 

" I could sing, if my fervour were mock — 
It's easy enough if you're acting — 
But, when one's emotion 
Is born of devotion, 
You mustn't be over-exacting. 
One ought to be firm as a rock 
To venture a shake in vibrato, 
When fervour's expected, 
Keep cool and collected, 
Or never attempt agitato. 
But, of course, when his tongue is of leather, 
And his lips appear pasted together, 
And his sensitive palate as dry as a crust is, 
A tenor can't do himself justice. 

Now observe — {sings a cadence), 
It's no use — I can't do myself justice ! " 

Zara. Why, Arthur, what does it matter ? When 
the higher qualities of the heart are all that can be 
desired, the higher notes of the voice are matters of 
comparative insignificance. Who thinks slightingly 
of the cocoa-nut because it is husky ? Besides (de- 
murely) you are not singing for an engagement (putting 
her hand in his), you have that already 1 

Fitz. How good and wise you are I How unerringly 


your practised brain winnows the wheat from the 
chaff, the material from the merely incidental ! 

Zara. My Girton training, Artnur. At Girton all 
is wheat, and idle chaff is never heard within its walls. 

A splendid specimen of a Gilbertian love-scene ; a 
perfect parody of the silly ways of young lovers in 
general, and tenor lovers in particular. Need it be 
added how thoroughly Sullivan entered into the spirit 
of the fun, intensifying the humour of every line by 
the mirth-provoking devices of his musical instruments ? 

Following upon this amusing lyric, in agreeable 
contrast came the following graceful — 


Zara. " Words of love too loudly spoken 

Ring their own untimely knell ; 
Noisy vows are rudely broken, 

Soft the song of Philomel 
Whisper sweetly, whisper slowly, 

Hour by hour and day by day ; 
Sweet and low as accents holy 

Are the notes of lover's lay. 

Frrz. " Let the conqueror, flushed with gloiy. 

Bid his noisy clarions bray ; 
Lovers tell their artless story 

In a whispered virelay. 
False is he whose vows alluring 

Make the listening echoes ring ; 
Sweet and low when all-enduring 

Are the songs that lovers sing/' 



Cast of the opera — A new Savoy prima donna — D6trat of Miss Nancy 
Mcintosh — More samples of Gilbert's lyrics and dialogue— 
" Utopia " a popular success — Utopian Court Drawing-room— 
Displeasure in high places. 

Before proceeding further to review the latest Gilbert 
and Sullivan opera, let us record the cast of — 



King Paramount the First Mr. Rutland Barrington 

(King of Utopia) 
Scaphio .... Mr. W. H. Denny 

Phantis Mr. John Lb Hat 

{Judges of the Utopian Supreme Court) 
Tarara .... Mr. Walter Passmore 

(The Public Exploder) 
Calynx Mr. Bowden Haswell 

(The Utopian Vice-Chamberlain) 

Imported Flowers op Progress 

Lord Dramaleigh . . . Mr. Scott Russell 

(A British Lord Chamberlain) 
Captain Fitzbattleaxe . Mr. Charles Kenningham 

(First Life Guards) 
Captain Sir Edward Corcoran, K.C.B. 

{Of the Royal Navy) Mr. Lawrence Gkindley 



UTOPIA " 321 

Mr. Goldbury ♦ Mr. Scott Fische 

(A Company Promoter, afterwards 
Comptroller of the Utopian Household) 
Sir Bailey Barre, Q.C., M.P. . Mr. Ernest Blackmore 
Mr. Blushington ♦ ♦ Mr. Herbert Ralland 

(Of the County Council) 

The Princess Zara . ♦ . Miss Nancy McIntosh 

(Eldest daughter of King Paramount) 
The Princess Nekaya Miss Emmie Owen 

The Princess Kalyba . . Miss Florence Perry 

(Her younger Sisters) 
The Lady Sophy . Miss Rosina Brandram 

(Their English Gouvemante) 
Salata . Miss Edith Johnston 

Melene Miss May Bell 

Fhylla Miss Florence Easton 

(Utopian Maidens) 

Act I. — A Utopian Palm-grove 

Act II. — Throne-room in King Paramount' s Palace 

(Mr Hawes Craven by permission of Mr. Henry Irving) 

Stage Director . . Mr. Charles Harris 

Musical Director . Mr. FRAN901S Cellier 

Stage Manager, Mr. W. H. Seymour. The Dances 
arranged by Mr. John D'Auban. The Utopian Dresses 
designed by Mr. Percy Anderson, and executed by Miss 
Fisher, Madame Auguste, and Madame L&m. Uniforms 
by Messrs. Firmin & Sons, also by Mr. B. J. Simmons and 
Messrs* Angel & Sons. The Presentations by Madame 
Isabel Bizet-Michau. The Court Dresses by Messrs. 
Russell & Allen. The Judges' Robes by Messrs. Ede & 
Son .The Ladies' Jewels by The Parisian Diamond Com- 
pany. The Wigs by Mr. Clarkson. The properties by 
Mr. Skelly. Stage Machinist, Mr. P. White. 

The Opera produced under the sole direction of the 
Author and Composer. 


It was with a loud flourish of trumpets that Miss 
Nancy Mcintosh, the pretty American soprano, made 
her d6but on the operatic stage in the part of " The 
Princess Zara." 

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Miss Mcintosh had 
come to London to study singing under Mr. George 
Henschel, and it was at concerts directed by that 
famed professor that his pupil became favourably 
known to the musical public. 

Gilbert, having been charmed by the singing and 
personality of the young artiste, introduced her to 
Sullivan and D'Oyly Carte, the result being her engage- 
ment as principal soprano in the new Savoy opera 
Highly laudatory press notices, in advance, led the 
public to anticipate a triumphant first appearance at 
the Savoy. That their brightest expectations were 
fully realized can hardly be admitted. As a singer 
gifted with a beautiful voice, Miss Mcintosh was 
readily acknowledged to be a great acquisition to the 
Savoy ; but as an actress she was found to be; unripe. 
She had much to learn before she could attain to that 
mark which distinguishes the professional from the 
amateur. It is, invariably, a mistake to exalt a novice 
at one step to the front rank. Such faith, without 
sure foundation, seldom results in anything but dis- 
appointment to all concerned. Far wiser is it to allow 
an artist to graduate and earn degree than to thrust 
honours upon the shoulders of one unprepared to 
carry them. So it might have been with Mr. Gilbert's 
clever protSgie. The leading lady's part in " Utopia " 
was an exacting one, even for an experienced actress, 

miss nancy Mcintosh 323 

so that it would have been little less than marvellous 
if a budding debutante, beset with nervousness and 
the excitement of the occasion, had achieved un- 
qualified success. 

Such critical observations must not be taken as 
ungracious reflections on the artistic merits of the 
young prima donna ; they are simply intended to 
convey some impression of the reason why Miss 
Nancy Mcintosh failed, in a measure, to achieve at 
the outset the triumph all her friends had hoped to 

And now to quote another delightful number from 
the book of "Utopia/' Would that with Gilbert's 
poetical words we might give Sullivan's lovely setting 
of the unaccompanied chorus : 

" Eagle high in cloud-land soaring, 

Sparrow twittering on a reed, 
Tiger in the jungle roaring, 

Frightened fawn in grassy mead ; 
Let the eagle, not the sparrow. 
Be the object of your arrow, 

Fix the tiger with your eye. 

Pass the fawn in pity by. 
Glory then will crown the day ; 
Glory, glory, anyway ! '* 

Was it not against the eagles and tigers of society 
who prey upon poor humanity, those base beings and 
the evils they beget, that Gilbert aimed the arrows of 
his satire ? To the fawns, the gentler things of creation, 
he was ever gentle. It was thus that glory crowned 
his day. 


Another particularly happy song was one in praise 
of English girls : 

" A wonderful joy our eyes to bless, 
In her magnificent comeliness, 
Is an English girl of eleven-stone-two, 
And five-foot-ten in her dancing-shoe ! 
She follows the hounds, and on she pounds — 

The ' field ' tails off and the muffs diminish — 
Over the hedges and brooks she bounds 
Straight as a crow, from find to finish. 
At cricket, her kin will lose or win — 

She and her maids, on grass and clover, 
Eleven maids out— eleven maids in — 
And perhaps an occasional ' maiden over ' ! 
Go search the world and search the sea, 
Then come you home and sing with me. 
There's no such gold and no such pearl 
As a bright and beautiful English girl ! 

" With a ten-mile spin she stretches her limbs. 
She golfs, she punts, she rows, she swims — 
She plays, she sings, she dances, too. 
From ten or eleven till all is blue ! 
At ball or drum, till small hours come 

(Chaperon's fan conceals her yawning), 
Shell waltz away like a teetotum, 

And never go home till daylight's dawning. 
Lawn-tennis may share her favours fair — 

Her eyes a-dance and her cheeks a-glowing — 
Down comes her hair, but what does she care ? 
It's all her own and it's worth the showing ! 
Go search the world, etc. 

" Her soul is sweet as the ocean air, 
For prudery knows no haven there ; 


To find mock-modesty, please apply 
To the conscious blush and the downcast eye. 
Rich in the things contentment brings, 

In every pure enjoyment wealthy, 
Blithe as a beautiful bird she sings, 

For body and mind are hale and healthy. 
Her eyes they thrill with right good-will — 

Her heart is light as a floating feather — 
As pure and bright as the mountain rill 

That leaps and laughs in the Highland heather ! 
Go search the world, etc." 

Then let us take the stanza that forms the Finale to 
the opera. In this it seemed as though the author 
wished to offer some atonement for the ridicule he had 
been pouring upon his own country, and to show that 
he could from his heart say with Byron, " England, 
with all thy faults, I love thee still." 


Zara. " There's a little group of isles beyond the wave — 
So tiny, you might almost wonder where it h 
That nation is the bravest of the brave, 

And cowards are the rarest of all rarities. 
The proudest nations kneel at her command ; 

She terrifies all foreign-born rapscallions ; 
And holds the peace of Europe in her hand 
With half a score invincible battalions i 
Such, at least, is the tale 
Which is borne on the gale. 

From the island which dwells in the sea. 
Let us hope, for her sake, 
That she makes no mistake — 
That she's all she professes to be 1 


King. " Oh may we copy all her maxims wise. 
And imitate her virtues and her charities ; 
And may we, by degrees, acclimatise 

Her parliamentary peculiarities ! 
By doing so we shall, in course of time, 

Regenerate completely our entire land — 
Great Britain is that monarchy sublime, 
To which some add (but others do not) Ireland. 
Such, at least, is the tale, etc." 

From the point of view both of the Press and of the 
public, " Utopia " was a great success, and it proved 
itself to be so by filling the Savoy Theatre for 245 days. 
Why then, it may be asked, has the piece never been 
revived, like nearly all the other G. and S. operas? 
Possibly the only true answer lies in the fact that 
King Paramount' s playful parody of the English 
Court caused grave displeasure in high places, so that 
to repeat the offence would be beyond the bounds of 
loyalty, wise policy, or good taste, even though in 
later days the subject might not be received in the 
same serious, grey light that dimmed the glories of 
" Utopia " twenty years ago. The evil was found 
in a too faithful but highly coloured representation of 
Princes and Princesses, noblemen and statesmen, 
household officials and others, modelled, as it were, 
from real life at St. James's. In the belief that such 
scenes excited ridicule, Gilbert's fantasy was taken 
as an affront, and so deeply resented that no member 
of the English Court was known to pay a second visit 
to " Utopia." 

It may be interesting to the present generation— I 


trust it may not be considered indiscreet — if we extract 
from the libretto the entire scene which, although it 
did not bring upon Gilbert a charge of Use-majesU, 
was held to be, at least, wanting in respect to Royalty 
and High State. 

King. (Addressing members of his Cabinet.) Gentle- 
men, our daughter holds her first Drawing-room in 
half an hour, and we shall have time to make our half- 
yearly report in the interval. I am necessarily un- 
familiar with the forms of an English Cabinet Council ; 
perhaps the Lord Chamberlain will kindly put us in 
the way of doing the thing properly, and with due 
regard to the solemnity of the occasion. 

Lord Dramaleigh. Certainly — nothing simpler. 
Kindly bring your chairs forward — His Majesty will, 
of course, preside. 

They range their chairs across stage like Christy 

Minstrels. King sits C, Lord Drama- 
leigh on his L., Mr. Goldbury on his 
R. 9 Capt. Corcoran L. of Lord Drama- 
leigh, Capt. Fitzbattleaxe R. of Mr. 
Goldbury, Mr. Blushington extreme 
R., Sir Bailey Barre extreme L. 
King. Like this? 
Ld. Dram. Like this. 

King. We take your word for it that all is right. 
You are not making fun of us ? This is in accordance 
with the practice at the Court of St. James's ? 

Ld. Dram. Well, it is in accordance with the practice 
at the Court of St. James's Hall.* 
King. Oh 1 it seems odd, but never mind* 

* The Hall in London, where the Moore and Burgess Christy Min- 
strels performances were given. 


Song. — King 

Society has quite forsaken all her wicked courses. 
Which empties our police-courts, and abolishes divorces. 
Chorus. Divorce is nearly absolute in England. 
King. No tolerance we show to undeserving rank and splendour ; 
For the higher his position is, the greater the offender. 
Chorus. That's a maxim that is prevalent in England. 
King. No peeress at our Drawing- room before the Presence passes, 
Who wouldn't be accepted by the lower middle classes. 
Each shady dame, whatever be her rank, is bowed out neatly. 
Chorus. In short, this happy country has been Anglicized com- 
pletely i 

It really is surprising 
What a thorough Anglicizing 
We have brought about — Utopia's quite another land ; 
In her enterprising movements 
She is England — with improvements, 
Which we dutifully offer to our mother-land ! 
King. Out city we have beautified — we've done it willy-nilly— 
And all that isn't Belgrave Square is Strand and Piccadilly. 
Chorus. We haven't any slummeries in England ! 
King. We have solved the labour question with discrimination 
So poverty is obsolete and hunger is abolished. 
Chorus. We are going to abolish it in England. 
King. The Chamberlain our native stage has purged, beyond a 
Of " risky " situation and indelicate suggestion ; 
No piece is tolerated if it's costumed indiscreetly. 
Chorus. In short, this happy country has been Anglicized com- 
pletely ! 

It really is surprising, etc. 
King. Our Peerage we've remodelled on an intellectual basis, 
Which certainly is rough on our hereditary races. 
Chorus. We are going to remodel it in England. 
King. The Brewers andthe Cotton Lords no longer seek admission. 

And Literary Merit meets with proper recognition. 





Chorus. As Literary Merit does in England ! 
King. Who knows but we may count among our intellectual 
Like you an Earl of Thackeray and p'raps a Duke of Dickens — 
Lord Fildes and Viscount Millais (when they come) we'll welcome 
Chorus. In short, this happy country has been Anglicized com* 
pletely ! 

It really is surprising, etc. 

(At the end all rise and replace their chairs.) 

King. Now, then, for our First Drawing-room. 
Where are the Princesses ? What an extraordinary 
thing it is that, since European looking-glasses have 
been supplied to the royal bed-rooms, my daughters 
are invariably late I 

Ld. Dram. Sir, their Royal Highnesses await your 
pleasure in the ante-room. 

King. Oh. Then request them to do us the favour 
to enter at once. 

March. Enter all the Royal Household, in- 
cluding (besides the Lord Chamberlain) 
the Vice-Chamberlain, the Master of the 
Horse, the Master of the Buck hounds, the 
Lord High Treasurer, the Lord Steward, 
the Comptroller of the Household, the Lord- 
in-Waiting, the Groonhin-Waiting, the 
Field Officer in Brigade Waiting, the Gold 
and Silver Stick, ana the Gentlemen Ushers. 
Then enter the three Princesses (their 
trains carried by Pages of Honour), Lady 
Sophy, and the Ladies-in-W aiting. 

Thereupon followed an exact, a too faithful repre- 
sentation of a Court Drawing-room; and this it was 


that caused all the trouble. It was a great pity, seeing 
that " Utopia, or The Flowers of Progress/ 1 was one 
of the brightest and wittiest of Gilbert's books, whilst 
the score was rich in songs that all who heard them 
would like to hear again. Some of them may be 
numbered amongst Sullivan's purest gems of melody. 

In connection with the rehearsals of "Utopia" an 
anecdote is told of Charles Harris, the Stage Director. 
Like his confrere, Richard Barker, Charlie Harris, whilst 
brusque and rough in manner, was very kind-hearted. 
Drilling the company in the Court Drawing-room scene, 
he had great difficulty in prevailing on one of the 
ladies to adopt the attitude of grace becoming the 
occasion. At length he called her to his side and said : 
" Look here, my dear, you mustn't walk as if you were 
going to fetch your father's supper-beer. Bear in 
mind, you are passing before the King and Queen." 
The timid girl, abashed, was nigh weeping, but Harris, 
in gentler tone, continued : " All you want is a little 
confidence, my dear. I suppose you haven't much 
money about you ? " The girl replied : " Not — very — 
much, Mr. Harris." Then ''Charlie" handed her a 
sovereign, saying, " Well, put that in your purse and 
let's try again. Now walk as if you were a marchioness 
with heaps of gold in your pocket." The inducement 
having the desired effect, the poor girl blushingly 
thanked Harris and offered back the sovereign. " No, 
my dear, you keep that," said Charlie ; " go and dine 
like a Duchess, and to-morrow, when you rehearse, you 
will be fit to present at Court I " 

Here is another characteristic story of Charles Harris, 


i who, as is generally known, was brother to Sir Augustus 
1 Harris. He had been witnessing a dress rehearsal 
1 at Drury Lane. On his return to the Savoy D*Oyly 
Carte asked him how things had gone. Harris replied, 
1 " Awful ! everything is in a perfect state of Kudos'* 
1 " Utopia," after a run of 245 performances, was with- 

drawn on June 9th, 1894. 
< The most pleasant incident of the memorable first 

t night of "Utopia" was the enthusiastic reception of 
[ Gilbert and Sullivan when they took their " Call," and, 
; appearing before the curtain, shook hands in token of 
the renewal of their friendship. It was a touch of 
. sentiment that went straight home to the hearts of 
all Savoyards, and evoked shouts of joy sincere and 


Fortune on the ebb— " Mirette "— " The Chieftain "—Revival of 
4 " The Mikado "—Apathy of Savoyard*— " The Grand-Duke "- 
Madame Ilka von Palmay— The last Gilbert and Sullivan opera— 
" Mikado " again revived — i,oooth performance of " The Mikado " 
—Retirement of Jessie Bond— " His Majesty "—Sir Alexander 
Mackenzie's music— First revival of " The Yeomen of the Guard 11 
— " The Grand-Duchess " — Offenbach and Sullivan — First revival 
of " The Gondoliers." 

Following the withdrawal of " Utopia " on June 9th, 
1894, the tide of fortune began to ebb. Failure fol- 
lowed upon failure. All Mr. Carte's plucky efforts to 
find a piece to the liking of his patrons were in vain. 
First he tried an English adaptation of Andr6 Messaged 
" Mirette/' an opera comique which had met with 
great success in Paris, but here it proved unacceptable, 
and was withdrawn after forty days, and the theatre 
remained closed for two months. Yet so great was 
D'Oyly Carte's faith in the attractiveness of Messaged 
music that he ventured to produce a second version of 
" Mirette/' but with no better success than had at- 
tended the first edition. French opera was not what 
was wanted at the Savoy. 

Then followed the Burnand-Sullivan comic opera, 
"The Chieftain/' a glorified version of the same 
author's " Contrabandist a/' a one-act musical piece, 
produced by German Reed at St. George's Hall in 



1867. " The Chieftain " was allowed but short life, 
and not a very merry run of ninety-six nights. No- 
thing would satisfy the Savoyards but Gilbert and 
Sullivan. All other authors and composers were as 
heretics. And it must be the conjoint work of their 
favourites, otherwise the piece would not be a genuine 
Savoy Opera* Accordingly the ever-obliging Manager 
recalled a second time " The Mikado/ 9 and that popular 
potentate again proved the greatness of his sway. 
People swarmed to renew the acquaintance of " Pooh- 
Bah/' "Koko" & Co., those grotesque Japanese 
serio-comics whose welcome would never wear out. 
For 127 nights mirth and laughter reigned once more 
at the Savoy. Meanwhile, a new opera by Gilbert 
and Sullivan had been in rehearsal. Strange to relate, 
the preliminary announcement of the piece did not 
create the usual wave of excitement. The Savoyards 
seemed to be growing apathetic in their attitude even 
towards their great high-priests. Could it be that 
recent failures had caused them to lose faith in the 
Savoy management, and that now they were following 
the instincts of rats that scuttle from a sinking ship ? 
The suggestion was absurd. If only the new opera 
should prove as good, or even half as good, as " The 
Mikado/ 1 or " The Gondoliers/' apathy would promptly 
change to the old enthusiasm. And so, yet hoping for 
the best, they patiently awaited the production of 
" The Grand-Duke, or the Statutory Duel." 

The first performance took place on Saturday, 
March 7th, 1896. Too soon it was found that hopes 
were doomed to disappointment. The bright wedding- 


chorus which opened the opera was full of promise 
and put everybody into a happy mood. Sullivan had 
returned to cheer the town, as he alone could do, with 
his exhilarating music. But whilst the audience 
turned over the leaves of "The Book" they grew 
more and more listless. Where was the sparkling, 
effervescent Gilbertian wit that had tickled their 
fancy without failing for the past twenty years? 
Surely this was not the same Gilbert who had given 
them just a dozen masterpieces, with which none but 
the most captious critics had found reasonable fault. 
Did the evil lie in the fact that " The Grand-Duke" 
bore the fatal number thirteen, or, what did it all 
mean ? The weakness was not with the dramatis 
personae, for the cast included many old-established 
favourites— Rosina Brandram, Emmie Owen, Rutland 
Barringtou, Walter Passmore, Scott Russell, and 
Charles Kenningham. No stronger company could 
Savoyards have wished for. To the list was added the 
name of Madame Ilka von Palmay, a charming Hun- 
garian soprano, whose pretty suspicion of a foreign 
accent gave agreeable colour to a remarkably clear 
English enunciation. The new prima donna's talents 
could not be rightly gauged by the part she had to play 
in such a vapid, uninteresting opera. Then further, 
although no one could foretell it, the minor parts were 
filled by artistes whose names, in later days, were 
to be entered on the roll of popular Savoy favour- 
ites. Among these were Ruth Vincent, Jessie Rose, 
Florence Perry, and C. H. Workman. Individually 
and collectively the company, coached and drilled to 



the usual Savoy pitch of perfection, worked right 
loyally and well ; but they could not import life into 
the dry bones of " The Grand-Duke/ * nor could Sulli- 
van's most sparkling ripple of melody lift the piece 
out of the stagnant slough of Gilbert's un-Gilbertian 
humour. It was evident that our author's muse was 
sick or sulky when he wrote " The Grand-Duke." No 
one could believe that Gilbert's mine of fun fantastic 
was worked out. Yet it was possible 1 

It would be a thankless task and quite unnecessary 
to dwell longer on an event that cannot be included 
amongst happy reminiscences of the Savoy. Still less 
pleasant is it to reflect that " The Grand-Duke " was 
the last work of the famous collaborators. Far hap- 
pier would our retrospect have been if, before those 
amber, satin curtains of the Savoy, Gilbert and Sulli- 
van might together, hand in hand, have made 
their final bow amidst the loudest shouts of triumph 
that had ever rewarded their labours. But it was 
not to be. 

Thus " The Grand-Duke " won the unenviable dis- 
tinction of scoring the shortest run of all the Gilbert 
and Sullivan operas. The total number of per- 
formances was one hundred and twenty-three. 

After the extinction of His Highness, back came the 
marvellous " Mikado " to save the situation and restore 
the fame of its author. This, the third revival of the 
Japanese opera, continued to hold the stage for 226 
consecutive performances. Since its original produc- 
tion in 1885, " The Mikado " had now been played at 
the Savoy alone no fewer than 1,141 times. The one- 


thousandth performance was celebrated, in gala fashion, 
by an audience resembling that of a first night. The 
theatre was beautifully decorated with scarlet and 
gold chrysanthemums, and " All was right as right 
could be/ 9 under the fourth dispensation of the " Most 
humane Mikado that ever did in Japan exist." A 
noteworthy incident attached to this revival was the 
retirement from the stage of Miss Jessie Bond. During 
a period of nearly twenty years, this clever little lady, 
by her talents as an actress and singer and still more 
so by the charm of her personality, had captivated 
the hearts of all Savoyards, and now, on her entering 
into "the felicity of unbounded domesticity," Miss 
Bond's departure was accompanied by the hearty 
good wishes of her colleagues and a multitude of 
friends in front of the curtain. 

And now, "The Mikado" having retired to rest 
for a while, we were to witness the accession of yet 
another monarch on the Savoy stage. 

The production of " His Majesty, or the Court of 
Vingolia," written by Mr. F. C. Burnand and composed 
by Sir Alexander Mackenzie, was anticipated with keen 
interest. For the first time the distinguished Mus. Doc 
entered the domain of comic opera. Every music- 
lover knew that Sir Alexander might be trusted to do 
nothing that was not in the highest degree musicianly. 
With such an expert librettist as the Editor of 
Punch, the famous Principal of the Royal Academy 
of Music would, it was confidently thought, have the 
assistance of a most worthy colleague. Much, then, 
was expected from such collaboration. But, alas ! all 



such hopes and expectations proved futile. For some 
reasons, which it would be impertinent to try to ex- 
plain, Burnand's style of humour failed to appeal to 
a Savoy audience. In the right order of things it 
should have been otherwise, since, by strange coin- 
cidence, Mr. Francis Cowley (now Sir Francis C.) 
Burnand, is descended from an old Savoyard family. 
" His Majesty " was far from the brightest inspiration 
of the witty author of " Happy Thoughts/' who in this, 
his latest work, was assisted by Mr. R. C. Lehmann, 
his clever colleague on the staff of Punch. Burnand's 
" Court of Vingolia " lacked the brilliancy and vitality 
of Gilbert's " Utopian Court," or that of the " King- 
dom of Barataria," in which the "Men^Gondoliers" 
frolicked and flourished for five hundreH'gladsome days. 
In brief, " His Majesty " was not up to the mark as a 
libretto. It was wanting in a quality most likely to 
evoke humour from any serious composer, so that it 
may justly be said that Sir Alexander Mackenzie was 
too heavily handicapped by his librettist. His music 
throughout "His Majesty 91 was full of life and spirit, 
rich in grace, charm, and variety ; but it was not quite 
bright and sparkling enough for the purpose of Savoy 

The composer's superb instrumentation and beautiful 
choral effects were better suited to Grand Opera. No- 
thing finer than the Finale to the first act was ever 
heard at the Savoy. Sir Alexander truly gave us of 
his best, but, to quote the words of a musical critic, 
"The musician's best is not always the best in the 
ears of an ordinary British theatrical audience. Such 


fine orchestration was above the understanding of the 

Many music-lovers, after hearing the music of " His 
Majesty/' expressed regret that Mackenzie's opera 
"Colomba" had not been produced by Mr. D*Oyly Carte 
at the English Opera-house. It might well have been 
included in the required repertoire, which, if it had been 
established,. might have changed the destinies of the 
palatial theatre built by Carte for such specific purpose. 

The character of His Majesty, Ferdinand the Fifth, 
was represented by George Grossmith, who made his 
reappearance at the Savoy after an absence of nearly 
eight years. But the popular comedian, finding the 
part unsuitable to him, resigned it after a few per- 
formances, and his place was taken by Mr. H. A. 
Lytton, who scored his initial success at the Savoy, 
where, in later revivals of the Gilbert and Sullivan 
operas, he established his fame by his admirable 
acting and singing in various parts. 

After a reign of sixty-one days, " His Majesty " was 
dethroned, and on May 5th, 1897, " The Yeomen 
of the Guard" was revived for the first time. This 
charming opera was as welcome as the spring flowers 
that were just then blooming in the Thames Embank- 
ment Gardens. 

" The Yeomen " again drew crowded audiences to 
the Savoy up to November 20th, 1897. After a short 
recess, Mr. Carte put on " The Grand-Duchess " ; but, 
notwithstanding the fascinations of Florence St. John 
in the title-role, Hal6vy and Offenbach's " Grand* 
Duchess 9 ' proved as unattractive as Gilbert and 


Sullivan's " Grand-Duke/' The most interesting con- 
sequence of this revival was the opportunity it afforded 
of drawing comparison between the English and the 
French masters of light opera. However much opinions 
in the wider world may have differed regarding the 
comparative merits of the two composers, it was quite 
certain that, at the Savoy, Offenbach in all his brilli- 
ancy did not succeed in dimming the glory of Sullivan* 
If, at the time, any play-goer questioned that fact, the 
enthusiasm which greeted the return of " The Gon- 
doliers must have convinced them that Sir Arthur 
Sullivan still reigned King Paramount in the hearts 
of British music-lovers. 

We have sometimes heard Sullivan described as 
" The English Offenbach." According to a statement 
contained in a letter from Sir Arthur to his friend 
Mr. B. W. Findon, the very absurd, ill-considered epi- 
thet was invented by Mr. G. A. Macfarren. That the 
learned Professor did not intend it as a compliment 
to his gifted British contemporary is obvious. By 
most of us it is accepted in the reverse sense ; by many 
such facetious comparisons are resented as an affront, 
a slur on Sullivan's fame. There is an unmistakable 
savour of jealous spleen and ill-natured irony in the 
phrase " The English Offenbach." And it is much to 
be regretted that Macfarren should have handed the 
term down to posterity in the pages of the "Encyclo- 
paedia Britannica." Musical savants in France have 
never, so far as we know, returned the compliment by 
calling Offenbach " The French Sullivan." They are 
wiser and more polite across the Channel. Our French 


friends doubtless recognized the absurdity and ques- 
tionable taste of linking together the names of two 
composers so distinct in their musical style and 
method. But then, it may be remarked, music-lovers 
in France have been far less prodigal in their praise of 
Sullivan than we English have been in our admiration 
of Offenbach. The comparison is entirely uncalled fori 
" The Grand-Duchess," when previously performed 
in England, had given musical play-goers great pleasure, 
but, although Offenbach's effervescent, bubbling music 
was appreciated for a brief season at the Savoy, it 
soon became stale, flat, and unprofitable. Accordingly, 
after ninety-nine performances, the French piece was 
withdrawn and on March 22nd, 1898, " The Gondo- 
liers " came back to hold the Savoy stage for a few 
weeks pending the production of " The Beauty Stone." 

The casta of the operas mentioned in this chapter will be found in 
the Appendix at the end of the book. 




Collaboration of Pinero, Comyns Carr, and Sullivan — Romantic Musical 
Drama— Good music v. bad music — Old and new music — Sir 
Alexander Mackenzie's esteem for Sir Arthur Sullivan — Letter 
from Sir Alexander — His Sullivan lectures — The present author 
airs his personal views — " The Golden Legend " — A letter from 
Sullivan — Pineiro's libretto — Comyns Carr's lyrics — " Beauty 
Stone" unsuited to Savoy — Ruth Vincent — Pauline Joran — 
Walter Passmore plays "The Devil "—Emmie Owen, "The 

After a brief run of the revived " Gondoliers " a great 
revolution took place at the Savoy. King Ridicule 
was driven from his throne ; laughter holding both 
his sides was silenced for a time, whilst " The Devil " 
usurped authority and strove to bring back to the 
stage the spirit of superstitious romance which so 
enthralled and, it is assumed, delighted play-goers in 
the Middle Ages. 

For some time it had been rumoured that Mr. Pinero 
had undertaken to supply Sir Arthur Sullivan with 
a libretto ; great, then, was the interest awakened. 
What, it was asked, might we not expect from the 
conjoint work of England's most brilliant living dra- 
matist and her favourite living composer ? A work of 
art it was bound to be. Accordingly, when it became 



known that Pinero and Comyns Carr, with Sullivan, 
had completed a Romantic Musical Drama, curiosity 
knew no bounds. The scenes of enthusiasm that 
always attended a Savoy premihre have more than 
once been described in this volume, but the writer can 
recall no occasion when greater excitement prevailed 
than on this first night of " The Beauty Stone." Never 
in the proud annals of the Savoy had a more brilliant 
nor a more eager and impatient audience assembled, 
and when, on opening their programmes, people saw 
that Walter Passmore was going to play " The Devil," 
everybody expected lots of good fun. So frantic and 
continuous were the cheers that greeted Sir Arthur 
Sullivan's reappearance in the Conductor's Chair that 
many moments elapsed before the popular maestro was 
allowed to raise his baton. When at length he did 
so, there came a mighty hush to proclaim the intense 
interest with which the house settled down to listen 
for the first time to the overture to "The Beauty 
Stone." A few bars, and it needed not the presence 
of the chief in the orchestra nor his name on the pro- 
gramme to identify the composer with its ever-haunt- 
ing melodies, which so many have tried to emulate, but 
have only succeeded in caricaturing. And Sullivan's 
muse appeared to have been refreshed and invigorated 
by his sojourn in the Riviera, from whence our com- 
poser had recently returned for the rehearsal of his 
new opera. 

I have been sometimes asked to define the difference 
between good music and bad music. Being neither a 
theoretical nor a practical musician, and, indeed, a 


most consummate ignoramus concerning the canons 
of the musical art, all that I have been able to reply 
has been that to me all music that delights one's 
natural senses, quickens the pulse and appeals to the 
inner consciousness— may we not call it the soul ? — is 
good ; whilst that which sounds incongruous and un- 
expressive of words or thoughts is bad. Such old- 
fashioned notions will doubtless bring down upon me 
the scorn and derision of musical prophets ! 

But my most indulgent readers may remind me 
that this is hardly the place to air my views on a 
subject regarding which I confess myself a dunce. My 
excuse for such temerity must be that I am a devout 
lover of music — music that charms my senses, as 
Sullivan's has ever done. Thus, regardless of ridicule, 
I grasp the opportunity here afforded me of expressing 
my humble but honest opinion that the music has 
been the main artery of the life of the Savoy operas. 
Moreover, I am just now smarting from the tongue- 
pricks of a distinguished American litterateur, a man, 
perhaps, as ignorant as myself of the rudiments of 
music. He confessed that he liked some of Sullivan's 
music — in fact, he thought many of his songs were 
quite " O.K." ; but that, to compare Sullivan favour- 
ably, as a composer, with Offenbach was absurd, 
nothing but insular prejudice. Over a Martini cock- 
tail we agreed to differ. On the other hand, it is some 
consolation to find my untutored judgment supported 
by the academical observations of some of our highest 
and best respected musical critics. Take, for instance, 
the opinion of that serious and learned musical savant, 


Mr. W. S. Rockstro, who writes thus: "The pre- 
dominant quality in Sullivan's light opera music is 
reverence for art, conscientious observance of its laws 
in little things.' ' Further, in support of the cause 
I am pleading, let me call as a witness one who at the 
present period is an acknowledged Field-Marshal in 
the army corps of British musicians — Sir Alexander 
Mackenzie, Principal of the Royal Academy of Music. 

In ready response to my request, Sir Alexander, with 
characteristic kindness and good nature, has favoured 
me with a few lines bearing testimony to the admiration 
and esteem in which he held his departed friend and 
colleague, Sir Arthur Sullivan. I cannot do better 
than give a facsimile reproduction of the distinguished 
Professor's letter. 

It was my great privilege and pleasure to attend 
those "Sullivan Lectures" which Sir Alexander 
Mackenzie delivered at the Royal Institution in May 
1901, just six months after the death of Sir Arthur. 
Although thirteen years have intervened, I still retain 
the deep impression made upon my mind by the 
scholarly and graceful words uttered by a living master 
of music in praise and honour of the master departed. 
It is to be regretted that such clever and delightful 
essays on the life-work of Sullivan should remain on 
the shelf, and I have therefore ventured to suggest 
to Sir Alexander Mackenzie that he should publish 
them for the benefit and pleasure of posterity. 

Such reliable expert judgment as that I have been 
quoting above strengthens my own amateurish faith, 
and I think I shall be supported by every British lover 

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of music when I say that it is not easy to discover in 
Sullivan's operas any music that is not good. To me, 
Sullivan's was always real music, pure and most con- 
vincing music, music that must touch a sympathetic 
chord in a sensitive soul, unless, peradventure, it be 
of that unhappy mortal described by Shakespeare : 

" The man that hath no music in himself. 
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds. 
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." 

Sullivan's melodies, " the concord of sweet sounds " 
that flow incessantly through his instrumentation, 
have always had the same effect upon my emotions, 
whether the music I have listened to has been the 

In Memoriam" overture, "The Golden Legend/' 

The Mikado/ 1 or any of his lighter works, with their 
least of delightful, solemn, pathetic, or humorous 

After attending the first performance in London of 
" The Golden Legend " at the Albert Hall— Novem- 
ber 15th, 1886 — I was so deeply impressed with the 
beauty of the work that, before retiring to rest that 
night, I could not resist an impatient desire to express 
my admiration and offer my congratulations to Sir 
Arthur. By the following day's post I received from 
the composer a note so characteristic of Sullivan's 
genial, responsive nature that I would further adorn 
this chapter with a facsimile reproduction. 

But now to return to " The Beauty Stone." Here, 
once more, Sullivan displayed the remarkable ver- 
satility of his genius, Pinero's quaint, old-world 




story, culled by the author's fervid imagination from 
an incident of the year 1408 related by Froissart, 
brought inspiration to the composer, while Dr. Comyns 
Can's lyrics, if they did not reach the highest flight 
of poetry, more nearly approached it than is often 
found to be the case with operatic libretti. Carts 
verse was never unpoetical ; it was always smooth 
and rhythmical. But Sullivan, after having so long 
yoked his muse to Gilbert's very crisp, pithy, and ever- 
varying lyrics, was sometimes puzzled by his new 
librettist's lengthy stanzas and extremely elongated 
lines. Yet Sullivan succeeded in clothing them in 
some of his boldest and most masterly music. 

Taken altogether, " The Beauty Stone " was a work 
of genuine art, one that any author or composer might 
be proud to put his name to. Yet it failed to attract, 
and was withdrawn after fifty performances. This 
ill-success was, doubtless, partly due to the indisposi- 
tion of the disciples of Gilbert and Sullivan to accept 
any entertainment that disturbed the traditions of 
their popular temple. The Savoy was not the right 
place for this Romantic, musical drama. " The 
Beauty Stone" required a wider setting, a more 
elaborate mounting, and a numerically stronger com- 
pany than was possible on the Savoy stage. Had the 
piece been written and composed seven years earlier 
it might, after a certain amount of reconstruction, 
have been found suitable to place on the repertoire 
of the English Opera-house — that repertoire which 
D'Oyly Carte had projected, but, unfortunately, 
to create. But in 1891 " The Beauty Stone/' 


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like the renowned Spanish fleet, " could not be seen 
because it was not yet in sight/' 

And so it came to pass that the Pinero-Carr-Sullivan 
opera was numbered with many another admirable 
work that has failed through misadventure. It is 
truly lamentable to reflect how once again so much 
arduous labour proved in vain. More especially is it 
to be regretted that one of Sir Arthur Sullivan's most 
charming scores should lie buried, its music unheard 
by the multitude, but never to be forgotten by the 
comparative few whose privilege it was to listen to its 
beautiful numbers. There are probably some old 
Savoyards who will find particular pleasure in re- 
calling that exquisite song of the blind heroine, poor 
Laine (admirably impersonated by Miss Ruth Vincent), 
who, left alone in her misery, invokes the pity of the 
Blessed Virgin thus : 

" Mother of Jesu, at thy feet I cry ; 
I do not crave for love 
That so my heart may live. 

Else what am I ? 
Nay, and if God above 
Hath naught of love to give, 
I fain would die/' 

The scene may be remembered. As though in 
answer to the maiden's prayer, the Devil, disguised as 
a holy friar, enters and presents the cripple with the 
magic gem, on which, he sings, 

" Once trod the Virgin's feet, and, Since that hour, 
This silent particle of piecious stone — 
A rehc rescued from the wreck of ti 



Hath so much virtue, that on man or maid, 
Whoe'er it be who owns it, there doth fall 
The gift of perfect Beauty." 

This brief quotation will suffice to indicate the 
quality of the work, and to show how widely this opera 
differed from all that had preceded it at the Savoy. 

The following is the cast of — 



Theatre on Saturday, May 251H, 1898. 

Philip, Lord of Mirlemont 
Guntran of Beaugrant 
Simon Limal . 
Nicholas Dircks 
Peppin « 
A Seneschal 
A Lad of Town 
Baldwyn or Ath 
Lords of Serault/j 

Velaines, and J- 

St. Sauveur J 
The Devil . 
Laine • 


Loyse, from St. Denis 
Isabeau, from Florennes 
Barbe, from Bovigny 
A Shrewish Girl 
A Matron 
Saida . 

Mr. George Devoll 
Mr. Edwin Isham 
Mr. Henry A. Lytton 
Mr. Jones Hewson 
Mr. D'Arcy Kelway 
Mr. Leonard Russell 
Mr. Charles Childerstone 
• Mr. J. W. Foster 
. Mr. Cory James 
Mr. H. Gordon 
Mr. J. Ruff 
Mr. Walter Passmore 
Miss Ruth Vincent 
Miss Rosina Brandram 
Miss Emmie Owen 
Miss Madge Moyse 
Miss Minnie Pryce 
Miss Ethel Jackson 
Miss Mildred Baker 
Miss Ethel Wilson 
Miss Pauline Joran 

Unhappily for the well-doing of his venture, Mr. 


Carte, yielding to the persuasion of an influential friend 
and professed authority, had engaged two American 
singing actors who had come to London armed with 
highly flattering testimonials. These gentlemen proved 
to be, both as actors and singers, incapable of doing 
justice to the very important parts with which they 
were entrusted. They certainly made their mark on 
public opinion, but it was not the mark desired ; in 
fact, it was such a smudge as seriously to jeopardize 
the success of the piece. Apart from these, no stronger 
company of artists could have been desired. Notable 
amongst them were Miss Pauline J or an, unquestion- 
ably the finest prima donna ever seen on the Savoy 
stage, and Miss Ruth Vincent, who for the first time 
was given the opportunity of displaying those excep- 
tional talents which have since brought her, especially 
as a vocalist, to the front rank of her profession. A 
word must be said concerning Pineiro's " Devil " as 
portrayed by Walter Passmore. Of course, every man 
who ever troubles to think of him must form his own 
conception of the spirit of evil ; but, to me, the impish 
being who caused such mischief with "The Beauty 
Stone" had, with all his mediaeval grotesqueness 
which the author intended I he should possess, too 
much of the low-comedy mortal in his composition. 
His tricks were more supernatural than his person- 
ality. The Pineroic Prince of the Power of Dark- 
ness bore a distinct family likeness to Goethe's 
Mephistopheles, but lacked his courtly suavity and 
that will-power which made Faust his slave. The 
Devil who appeared at the Savoy for a brief season 


was neither so princely, nor so gentlemanly, nor so 
sorrowful as Miss Marie Corelli's Satan, whilst, seeing 
that his omnipotence over vain mortals was dependent 
upon a pebble, one could not easily exalt him above 
the rank of a demon-king in pantomime. I dare say 
I was very dense in my perception, but I could not 
make up my mind whether Pinero had misconceived 
the character or the clever comedian, Walter Pass- 
more, was too conscientious a Christian to take the 
Devil's part even in a stage-play. Be this as it may, 
it must be admitted that Passmore, aided by the 
fascinating, clever soubrette, Emmie Owen, whose 
spirited acting proved her to be the perfect personifica- 
tion of a dare-devil, succeeded in imparting agreeable 
relief to a too sombre, although exceedingly interesting, 
romantic musical drama. 


Revivals: " Gondoliers," "Sorcerer/' "Trial by Jury"— "The 
Lucky Star "—Sullivan and Basil Hood collaborate—" The Rose 
of Persia "—Wilfred BendaU— Captain Basil Hood as a librettist 
— "A Happy Ending" — Sullivan and "The Absent-minded 
Beggar " — The narrator's last meeting with Sullivan. 

u The Beauty Stone " was withdrawn on July 16th, 
1898, and until the end of that year the Savoy stage 
was occupied by revivals of "The Gondoliers" and 
" The Sorcerer/ ' with " Trial by Jury/' Then came 
" The Lucky Star," a comic opera in three acts. The 
author-in-chief s name was not divulged, but the lyrics 
were written by Adrian Ross and Aubrey Hopwood, 
the music by Ivan Caryll. The piece was supported 
by a strong company including Walter Passmore, 
Henry A. Lytton, Robert Evett, Isabel Jay, Emmie 
Owen, and Jessie Rose; but "The Lucky Star" 
scarcely succeeded in justifying its title as far as it 
concerned the management. The opera met with 
only moderate success, and was taken off after a run of 
one hundred and forty-three performances. " H.M.S. 
Pinafore " was then revived a second time and enjoyed 
another prosperous run of one hundred and seventy- 
four days, extending to November 25th, 1899. 

It was at this period that Sir Arthur Sullivan found 
a new collaborator in the person of Captain Basil 



Hood, whose name as a dramatic author and librettist 
had already become favourably known to the public 
by several successful productions, notably " Gentle- 
man Joe/' " The French Maid," and " Dandy Dan," 
to all of which pieces the music had been composed by 
Walter Slaughter. The present writer may claim to 
have been partly instrumental in bringing Basil Hood 
to the footlights of London. 

In the year 1886, when Captain (then Lieutenant) 
Hood was serving with his regiment (the Princess of 
Wales's Own Yorkshire) in Ireland, a fellow officer of 
his showed me a sample of his early attempts at play- 
writing. It was a " Blue Beard" pantomime, written 
for and played by officers and men of his regiment. I 
can well remember that the book of the words was 
elaborately printed in blue, with an emblematic design 
of a huge golden key on the cover. 

Professing in those days to be a dramatic critic, I, 
not without trepidation, undertook to read the novice's 
play. Often previously my sensitive nerves had been 
sorely tried through accepting the thankless office of 
friendly judge and adviser. But to my pleasure I soon 
discovered that the latest author of f ' Blue Beard " 
was capable of more ambitious work than writing 
amateur pantomime, Basil Hood's rhymed dialogue 
was polished, bright, and witty, his song-words were 
full of refined humour, his verse somewhat reminiscent 
of his namesake, Tom Hood 

Having made Hood's acquaintance, I introduced 
him, first, to my friend Wilfred Bendall, a <Jever com- 
poser with whom I had collaborated in several one 




act operettas. Hood and Bendall then prepared a 
little musical piece called " The Gypsies/' which was 
accepted and produced by Sir Augustus Harris. Even- 
tually Wilfred Bendall suggested to Sir Arthur Sullivan 
(whose secretary he was) that in Hood he might find 
a capable and worthy coadjutor. Sullivan and Hood 
then met, and the outcome was — 






The Sultan Mahmoud of Persia Mr. Henry A. Lytton 


(A Philanthropist) 

(A Professional Story-teller) 

(A Priest) 
The Grand Vizier . 
The Physician-in-Chief 
The Royal Executioner . 
Soldier of the Guard 
The Sultana Zubeydeh . 

(Named " Rose-in-Bloom 
" Scent-of-Lilies " . 
" Heart's Desire " . 
" Honey-of-Life " . 

(Her Favourite Slaves) 
" Dancing Sunbeam " 

(Hassan's First Wife) 
" Blush-of-Morning " 

(His Twenty-fifth Wife) 
" Oasis-in-the-Desert " . 
" Moon-upon-the- Waters " 
" Song-of-Nightingales " . 


Mr. Walter Passmore 

Mr. Robert Evett 

Mr. George Ridgwell 

Mr. W. H. Leon 

Mr. C. Childerstone 

Mr. Reginald Crompton 

Mr. Powis Pinder 

Miss Isabel Jay 

. Miss Jessie Rose 

Miss Louie Pounds 

Miss Emmie Owen 

Miss Rosina Brandram 

Miss Agnes Fraser 

Miss Madge Moyse 
Miss Jessie Pounds 
Miss Rose Rosslyn 


" Whisper-of-the- West- Wind " Miss Gertrude Jerrard 
(Wives of Hassan) 

Chorus, Act I.— Hassan's Wives, Mendicants, and Sulian's 

Act II.— Royal Slave-girls, Palace Officials, and 


Produced under the personal direction of the Author and 
Composer, and under the stage direction of Mr. R. Barker. 

Musical Director . . Mr. Francis Cellier 

Act I. — Court of Hassan's House 
Act II. — Audience Hall of the Sultan's Palace 

(W. Harford) 

The costumes designed by Mr. Percy Anderson 
Stage Manager . . . Mr. W. H. Seymour 

The Dances arranged by Mr. W. Warde (by kind per- 
mission of Mr. George Edwardes). Dresses by Miss 
Fisher, Madame Auguste, Madame L£on, and Mr. B. J. 
Simmons. Stage Machinist, Mr. P. White. Electrician, 
Mr. Lyons. 

The opera was produced on November 29th, 1899, and 
on the first night was found to fulfil the bright hopes 
entertained that the new collaboration would be 
effective. " The Rose of Persia " was an unqualified 
success. No opera since " The Gondoliers " had been 
so agreeable to the taste of Savoyards, and great were 
the expectations awakened. 

As a matter of course, the critics pronounced Basil 
Hood to be a close imitator of Gilbert. Every author 
who dared to write smart, pithy dialogue, or whose 
lyrics were above average merit, was charged with the 
misdemeanour of Gilbertianism. Sometimes, no doubt. 


the accusation was merited, but as regards Basil Hood 
it was not justified. His quaint Eastern story was 
obviously inspired by Omar Khayydm. The title, the 
characterization, the names of the dramatis personae — 
all smacked of the ancient Persian story-teller, and 
very skilfully had the author preserved the atmosphere 
of the East. The lyrics were gracefully conceived, 
rich in poetic fancy, and in thorough harmony with 
the scene. There was not a stanza unworthy of Sulli- 
van's setting ; indeed, the beauty of the music told 
how the composer had found inspiration in the words. 

Among the many gems of "The Rose of Persia" 
let us recall some of the most memorable. 

First came that fine song for Abdallah : 

" When Islam first arose, 
A tower upon a rock." 

Then followed the song of "Dancing Sunbeam/' 
superbly sung by Rosina Brandram : 

" Oh, Life has put into my hand 
His bunch of keys. 
And said, ' With these 
Do aught you please ! 
But one door only, understand, 
Is not for thee — 
Societee ! 
The Key of Gold will open wide that door-way ; 
But recollect, that one way is not your way ! ' 
So, like a Peri at the gate 
Of Fashion-land, 
I have to stand — 
The sport pf tantalizing Fate ! " 


One of the most popular numbers of the opera was 
that sung by Robert Evett : 

" I care not if the cup I hold 
Be one of fair design, 
Of crystal, silver, or of gold, 
If it containeth wine." 

Another charming ballad was that with which 
"Heart's Desire" (Louie Pounds) opened the second 

" Oh, what is Love ? 

A song from heart to heart ; 
When each doth complement 
Its counterpart/' 

But the crowning song came last in the opera. It 
is sung by Hassan, whose life depends upon his suc- 
ceeding in telling the Sultan an interesting story which 
must have a happy ending. 

This was the song : 

" There was once a small Street Arab, 

And his little name was Tom : 
And he lived in Gutter-Persia 

Where such arabs all come from : 
And, like little Gutter-Persians 

(Ev'ry one and one and all), 
His spirits were elastic 

As an india-rubber ball ! 

" And all day long he sang a song, 
A merry little ditty as he danced a cellar-flap : 

' The life I lead is all I need. 
And I know no better t '—the lucky little chap ! 


" Now among the bricks and mortar 

Did his little life-time pass ; 
He had never seen a flower 

Nor a single blade of grass : 
But one day he found a daisy, 

And he thought that simple thing 
Was a wondrous flow'r from heaven, 

And he took it to the King ! 

" He meant no wrong, but through the throng 
He struggled to the Sultan, and laid it on his lap 

(That simple weed — he did, indeed), 
For he knew no better — the foolish little chap ! 

" But the Sultan gravely thanked him, 

Saying, ' Would that I had eyes 
To see a simple daisy 

As a gift of Paradise ! 
I will not now reward thee, 

Or exchange thy humble lot — 
For riches would but rob thee 

Of a wealth that I have not ! ' 

" So all day long he sang his song, 
That merry little ditty as he danced a cellar-flap : 

' The life I lead is all I need ! ' 
For he knew no better — the lucky little chap ! " 

Sul. Is the story finished ? 

Has. That is only the beginning, O King. That 
little boy was myself — and the Sultan was your father 
— and the story I have been telling to the slave, which 
she has been telling to the Sultana, is the story of my 
own life — and, O King, this is the point : you have 
yourself commanded that the story — which is my life 
— is to have a happy ending* 


Sul. By the beard of my grandfather, you have 
played an odd trick upon me ! 
Has. It is the odd trick, O King, that wins the game ! 

This plaintive story, sympathetically told by Walter 
Passmore to the accompaniment of Sullivan's ear- 
haunting melody, touched not only the Sultan's heart 
but the heart of the Savoy audience. No happier 
ending to his play could the author have conceived. 

" The Rose of Persia " held the Savoy stage until 
June 28th, 1900, and numbered two hundred and twelve 

An incident associated with the production of this 
opera recurs to my mind. One day I happened to 
meet Sullivan coming from rehearsal. He was looking 
worn and worried. I anxiously inquired the cause 
of his dejection. " My dear fellow," he replied, " how 
would you feel if, whilst you were in the throes of 
rehearsing an opera, you were called upon to set ' The 
Absent-minded Beggar' for charity? That's my 
trouble ! All day long my thoughts, and at night my 
dreams, are haunted by the vision of a host of demon- 
creditors pursuing me with the cry, ' Pay — Pay — Pay ' ! 
It puzzled me to compose Gilbert's c I have a song 
to sing 0/ but that was child's-play compared to the 
setting of Kipling's lines. If it wasn't for Charity's 
sake I could never have undertaken the task." 

It was not very long after that meeting that I sat 
beside Sir Arthur's bed, where he lay seriously ill. 
Notwithstanding acute suffering, with characteristic 
kindness he granted me an interview with special 



reference to an entertainment at the Crystal Palace 
which, through his influence, I had been commissioned 
to prepare. It was with a heavy heart I parted from 
my old friend. I could not get rid of a sad foreboding 
that we had met for the last time. And so, alas, it 
proved to be ! 


Second Revival of " Pirates of Penzance "—First Revival of " Pa- 
tience " — Success of the aesthetic opera — Gilbert and D'Oyly Carte 
take their last " Call " together at the Savoy — Illness and death 
of Sullivan — Mr. B. W. Findon's account of the last days of the 
composer — Sir Arthur Sullivan's funeral. 

In order to allow Hood and Sullivan time to prepare 
another opera, Mr. D'Oyly Carte now revived, a 
second time, "The Pirates of Penzance/' which 
popular piece again drew crowded audiences for a 
period of five months. Then came the first revival 
of " Patience." Nineteen years had passed since 
this opera was transferred in its pristine state from 
the Opera Comique to inaugurate the opening of the 
Savoy Theatre. It was generally believed that "Pa- 
tience " was dead and buried for ever ; that the play 
had perished with the mock aestheticism on which it 
was a playful skit. Bunthorne and Grosvenor, if not 
quite forgotten, had become the mere shadows of 
ancient types, grotesque characters who had greatly 
amused us in 1881 and 1882. It was, therefore, 
questioned whether the point of Gilbert's satire would 
or would not be understood and appreciated by a later 
generation who knew not Maudle, Postlethwaite, or 
the Cimabue Browns, and, perhaps had never heard 

of the worshippers of the sunflower and the lily. 



It was in consequence of such doubt that " Patience ' ' 
had not, like all the other notable Gilbert and Sullivan 
successes, been revived until now. But on November 
17th, 1900, " Patience " came back from the grave 
as sweet and winsome and as guileless as ever, to 
flirt in turn with her childhood's playfellow, Archi- 
bald "The All-right," and Bunthorne, the " Aesthetic 
sham." Both false disciples of the Oscar Wilde cult, 
the " idyllic " and the fleshly " ail-but " poets returned 
to pose and flop and utter " platitudes in stained- 
glass attitudes," whilst close on their heels followed 
the adoring " twenty love-sick maidens, love-sick 
still against their will," and all as limp and clinging as 
they were twenty years ago ; in fact, precisely as 
they had prophesied they would be, and probably will 
be twenty years hence. 

Then, just as the audience was beginning to weary 
of the silly maidens with their amorous sighs and 
yearnings, back marched the gallant 35th Dragoon 
Guards ; on to the stage they tramped to the enlivening 
quick-step " The Soldiers of our Queen " ; they came 
in time to save the situation, to cause dismay amongst 
the idiotic members of the " Inner Brotherhood " and 
to rouse their friends in front to tumultuous applause. 
And what a welcome we of the old Brigade gave them 
one and all ! Some of us had been wondering whether 
we should identify any of the dramatis personae as 
our cheery companions of days gone by. We feared 
that the " greenery-yallery, Grosvenor gallery " poets 
would appear to us too rusty, musty, and out of date, 
as flat and stale as the incidents and institutions 


referred to in their topical patter. We half expected 
that the love-sick maidens would have lost their 
power to charm as they used to do, and that even 
the village milkmaid, Patience, might now, instead of 
fascinating, annoy us by her superlative innocence. 
Then, again, the entire cast of characters was new; 
we should sorely miss old faces. Where could another 
Patience be found worthy to compare with Leonora 
Braham ? Where another Lady Angela as delightful 
as Jessie Bond ? What would Bunthorne and Gros- 
venor be without Grossmith and Barrington ? But 
all such anxious doubts were quickly dispelled. The 
opera was as fresh and full of vitality as ever. Rest 
had given new lease of life to all the characters ; they 
seemed to have borne the burthen of twenty years 
better than ourselves, and their perennial youth 
rejuvenated the oldest amongst us. Isabel Jay, with 
her admirable singing and graceful personality, though 
she could not chase away happy memories of the 
original Patience, we welcomed, admired, and felt 
grateful for. Rosina Brandram, less massive than her 
predecessor, succeeded in getting as much fun as 
ever out of the part of Lady Jane, and her glorious, 
rich contralto voice added, as it ever did, to the charm 
of Sullivan's music. Walter Passmore and Henry 
Lytton lessened our regret at the loss of former 
favourites. In short, as regards the company and 
the general production, we could find nothing at all 
to grumble at. 

But perhaps the greatest astonishment felt by 
old Savoyards was the enthusiastic reception accorded 



the aesthetic opera by the younger generation. Here 
and there in the book a word or two had been altered, 
quite unnecessarily, to bring the piece up to date; 
such, for instance, as the substitution of " Tuppeny 
Tube " for " Threepenny Bus," and " Lord Roberts " 
for "Sir Garnet," who, by the way, was still living in 
honoured retirement as Lord Wolseley. These trifles, 
however, in no way hindered the success of the revival. 
Every Gilbertian quip, familiar to some of us, went 
straight to the ears of those who heard it for the first 
time. The tangled affections of the conscientious 
milkmaid and her poet-suitors, the alternate adoration 
of Bunthorne and Grosvenor by the rapturous damo- 
sels, the amorous propensities of Lady Jane, and the 
quaint efforts of the Dragoon Officers to become 
aestheticized — all these things won laughter and ap- 
plause no less hearty than in former days. 

But, as we once before suggested, there could be 
little doubt that it was chiefly through Sullivan's 
tuneful music that " Patience " captivated the hearts 
of all, both old and young alike. " Prithee, pretty 
maiden," " The Magnet and the Churn," " Love is a 
Plaintive Song," with its exquisite Valse refrain, 
Lady Jane's burlesque ballad, " Silvered is the raven 
hair" — in fact, all the old favourite songs were re- 
demanded again and again, despite Frank Cellier's 
efforts to subdue unreasonable encores. But the gem 
of all, the unaccompanied sestette, " I hear the soft 
note of an echoing voice," came back to our senses 
with the fragrant sweetness of a long-cherished but 
half-forgotten melody. To the ears of the younger 


people this perfect specimen of a part-song was a 
new and abiding joy. 

Taken altogether, the resurrection of " Patience " 
was one of the most remarkable events in the whole 
history of the Savoy. Its success was as unqualified 
as it had been unexpected. But, unhappily, mingling 
with our pleasure was keen regret. 

In the first place, Sir Arthur Sullivan was too unwell 
to appear, and to conduct as was his custom on first 
nights ; and when at curtain-fall Gilbert and D'Oyly 
Carte took their " Call," they both limped on the 
stage supported by stout walking-sticks, reminding 
us of Chelsea pensioners. The author was again the 
victim of his old enemy, the gout ; but the esteemed 
manager's case was of a more serious nature. Mr. 
Carte was in the throes of intense suffering ; he had 
been for some time prey to an illness that was too 
soon afterwards to have a fatal ending. 

Wednesday, November 7th, 1900, will remain for 
ever memorable in the annals of the Savoy, since on 
the evening of that day two of the members of the 
famous Triumvirate made their last bows to their 
patrons, associates, and friends, whilst the third of 
the veteran chiefs lay sick and — though we little 
dreamed it then — dying. 

So, whilst mirth and laughter reigned within the 
walls of the Savoy, black clouds were gathering 
overhead. And only too soon they were to break! 

On Thursday, November 22nd, 1900, the sad tidings 
went forth that Sir Arthur Sullivan was dead. " The 
sweetest singer of his generation " had passed away 


in the early hours of that morning. Deep and sincere 
was the grief felt throughout Great Britain, and every 
English-speaking nation of the world. 

By the kind sanction of my friend and fellow-scribe, 
Mr. B. W. Findon, I am permitted to quote from his 
admirable work, "Sullivan and His Operas." Mr. 
Findon, who claimed not only close friendship but 
blood relationship with the composer, gives the 
following interesting account of Sullivan's last days 
of life, the incidents attending his illness, and the 
causes which, humanly speaking, accelerated the end : 

" The early part of the year (1900) Sullivan had 
spent at Monte Carlo, where his life was one of quiet 
routine and mild enjoyment. He would work through- 
out the afternoon, and, after a late dinner, would go 
to the Casino and indulge in a little play for an hour 
or so, and then retire to his hotel. He avoided all 
gaiety, and was content with the society of one or 
two friends. 

" The summer months he spent at Walton-on- 
Thames, and there he devoted himself to composition 
with the energy and concentration for which he was 
ever remarkable. It would have been well had he 
remained at Walton until the approach of winter 
made it desirable for him to return to his London 
home. But he had a fancy to go to Switzerland, and 
there the mischief began which had so fatal a ter- 

" Grand scenery and Nature's loveliness possessed 
an irresistible fascination for Sullivan, and it was his 
delight to sit in the open in the evenings after dinner 
and pensively contemplate the wonders around him. 
It had been his habit in past years, and, so far as he 


saw, there was no obstacle in the way of his gratifying 
a favourite custom. He forgot, however, that age 
makes dangerous what youth can do with impunity. 
The night-air was sweet and refreshing, but its breath 
proved fatal to him. A troublesome cold was followed 
by bronchitis, and, as soon as he could travel with 
safety, Sullivan returned home. All then might have 
been well, but on October 29th he exposed himself to 
a piercing wind in order to see the return (from South 
Africa) of the City Imperial Volunteers. The bron- 
chitis reappeared more acutely than before, and told 
its worst tale on a heart which, already weak, gave 
way under the strain imposed upon it. Between six 
and seven a.m. on Thursday, November 22nd, he par- 
took of a light breakfast, and there was nothing in his 
condition to alarm those attending him. At about 
half-past eight he partially raised himself in bed, 
and complained of a pain in his heart. His nephew 
placed his arms around him, and assistance was 
promptly forthcoming, but the Pale Messenger had 
arrived, and Sullivan, in obedience to his inexorable 
summons, passed peacefully away on the Feast Day 
of St. Cecilia." 

It had been Sullivan's desire that he should be buried 
close to his mother in Brompton Cemetery, but so 
earnest was the wish expressed by his distinguished 
compatriots and the public in general, that England's 
well-beloved musician should be laid in our National 
mausoleum, that widespread was the satisfaction whan 
it became known that the Dean and Chapter of St. 
Paul's had readily acceded to the request made to 

At eleven o'clock on Tuesday, November 27th, the 


funeral procession set forth from Victoria Street, 
Westminster, on its mournful way, first to the Chapel 
Royal, St. James's, where, by command of the Queen, 
part of the Burial Service was to take place, and 
thence to St. Paul's. Throughout the line of route 
flags drooped at half-mast, whilst beneath them people 
crowded in their thousands, bare-headed and in 
silence, waiting to pay their last tribute of respect 
and gratitude to the lamented master whose genius 
had done so much to brighten their lives for the past 
five-and-twenty years. 

Into the Royal Chapel, where Arthur Sullivan had 
begun his career as a chorister, was borne the casket 
containing his remains. On either side stood men 
and women famous in society and the wider world of 
Art in all its branches. The Queen was represented 
by Sir Walter Parratt, Master of Music, who was the 
bearer of a wreath with the inscription : "A mark 
of sincere admiration for his musical talents from 
Queen Victoria." Sir Hubert Parry represented the 
Prince of Wales ; the German Emperor was repre- 
sented by Prince Lynar, Attach6 of the German 
Embassy ; Prince and Princess Christian by Colonel 
the Hon. Charles Eliot, and the Duke of Cambridge 
by General Bateson. 

Among the congregation at the Chapel Royal 
were seen the United States Ambassador ; the Earl 
and Countess of Strafford ; Theresa, Countess of 
Shrewsbury ; the Countess of Essex ; Lord Glenesk ; 
Lord Rowton ; Lord Crof ton ; Lady Catherine Coke ; 
the Dean of Westminster ; Lady Bancroft ; Lady 


Barnby ; Mr. Arthur Chappell ; Mr. and Mrs. F. C. 
Burnand ; Mr. Arthur W. Pinero ; Mr. Haddon 
Chambers ; Lieutenant Dan Godfrey ; Signor Tosti ; 
Mr. George Grossmith ; Mr. Rutland Barrington ; Miss 
Macintyre ; Mrs. Ronalds ; Canon Duckworth ; Lady 
Lewis ; Miss Ella Russell ; Mr. Augustus Manns ; 
Mr. Charles Wyndham ; Captain Basil Hood ; the 
Chairman and Secretary of Leeds Musical Festival; 
and Representatives of various British Musical Asso- 

The Pall-bearers were Sir Squire Bancroft, Mr. 
Francois Cellier, Colonel A. Collins (one of the Royal 
Equerries), Sir Frederick Bridge, Sir George Lewis, 
Sir Alexander Mackenzie, Sir George Martin, and 
Sir John Stainer. 

The chief mourners were Mr. Herbert Sullivan 
(nephew), Mr. John Sullivan (uncle), Mrs. Holmes, 
and Miss Jane Sullivan (nieces), Mr. Wilfred Bendall 
(Sullivan's secretary), Mr. B. W. Findon, Mr. Edward 
Dicey, Mr. C. W. Mathews, Mrs. D'Oyly Carte, Dr. 
Buxton Browne, Mr. Arthur Wagg, Mr. Fred Walker, 
Mr. Dreseden and Sir Arthur's servants. 

Much to their regret, neither Mr. Gilbert nor Mr. 
Carte wds able to attend the funeral. The first was 
on the Continent for the benefit of his health, the 
second was laid up by serious illness. The present 
writer also, having been absent from London at the 
time, has not the advantage of an eye-witness to give 
a graphic description of the funeral obsequies of his 
old friend ; and so, rather than attempt to paint the 
picture from imagination, he gladly avails himself 




AT ST. PAUL'S 369 

again of the courtesy of his brother-author who is so 
generous as to lend the aid of his experience. 

In these sympathetic words, Mr. Findon describes 
the scenes and incidents in which, as a chief mourner, he 
took part at the Chapel Royal and St. Paul's Cathedral : 

"... As the casket was borne into the Chapel, it 
was impossible to avoid thinking of those days when 
Sullivan himself had worn the gold and scarlet coat 
of a Chapel Royal Chorister, and his sweet young 
voice had rung through the sacred edifice. Then the 
world and its honours lay before him, but we doubt 
if even in the most sanguine moments of impulsive 
boyhood he imagined the greatness that one day 
would be his, or that his bier would pass within those 
honoured walls amid the silent demonstration of a 
mourning people. The anthem, * Yea, though I walk 
through the valley of the shadow of death/ from his 
oratorio 'The Light of the World/ was beautifully 
sung, and the pathos of the music bathed many a face 
in tears, and touched a tender spot in more than one 
loving heart. Another of the dead master's exquisite 
thoughts, ' Wreaths for our graves the Lord has given/ 
brought the Service at the Chapel Royal to an end, 
and the procession passed on its way to St. Paul's 
Cathedral, which was crowded with sympathetic 

" Clerical etiquette and cathedral dignity compelled 
the beginning of the Burial Service aW and when 
the coffin had been lowered into the crypt there 
came the most poignant moment of the long ceremonial. 

" Close to the open vault sat the members of the 
Savoy Opera Company, including his life-long friend, 
Mr. Francis Celfier, who had been associated as 
chef d'orchestre with all his comic operas, and, after 



the Benediction had been given, they sang in voices 
charged with emotion the touching chorus, 'Brother, 
thou art gone before us/ from ' The Martyr of Antioch.' 
The effect was quite remarkable, inasmuch as it was 
one of those incidents which come but rarely in a 
life- time." 

It was not in London alone that people mourned for 
Arthur Sullivan on that November day. Throughout 
Great Britain and Ireland, on the Continent of Europe, 
in America and farther across the seas, thousands of 
fond and grateful hearts ached with grief at the 
thought that England's dear master of melody had 
passed away into the silent land. From high-born 
personages and from people of low estate came floral 
emblems, wreaths, crosses, and lyres innumerable. 
Conspicuous among them was a beautiful harp of 
purple blossoms with strings — one broken — of white 
violets. To this offering was attached a card bearing 
the inscription: 

$n Aemorlam 


Born 13 May, 1842. Died 22 Nov., 1900 


Dear Master, since thy magic harp is broken, 
Where shall we find new melodies to sing ? 

The grief we feel may not in words be spoken ; 
Our voices with thy songs now heavenward wing. 

Whilst on thy tomb we lay this humble token 
Of love which to thy memory shall cling. 


24th November, 1900, 





These simple lines but half expressed the love and 
esteem in which Sir Arthur Sullivan was held by all 
whose privilege it was to have been associated with 
him, and to have served, however humbly, his proud 
and brilliant life-cause. 

A line borrowed from Moore's poem on the death of 
Sheridan might well be applied to Sullivan — 

"... Who ran 
Through each mode of the lyre and was master of them alL" 


How the narrator heard of Sullivan's death — Irish sympathy and 
regret — Edward German completes Sullivan's unfinished work, 
" The Emerald Isle "—Illness and death of D'Oyly Carte— Brief 
memoir of the Savoy Manager — A characteristic anecdote. 

It may not be out of place in these personal remi- 
niscences to narrate how the sad tidings of Sullivan's 
death reached my ears. I had arrived in Dublin as 
Mr, D'Oyly Carte's press representative in connection 
with the tour of "The Rose of Persia/' and on the 
morning of November 22nd, in pursuance of my 
official duties, I called at the office of The Irish 
Times and interviewed one of the sub-editors. Speak- 
ing of Sullivan's precarious health, I had just stated 
that, according to latest reports from headquarters, 
the composer had recovered strength sufficiently to 
enable him to resume work on his new opera, to be 
called " The Emerald Isle," when our conversation 
was interrupted by a telephone call. Then, like a bolt 
from the blue, came the message, " Sir Arthur Sullivan 
died at nine o'clock this morning ! " 

This was one of the strangest coincidences, as it 
was, truly, the saddest one in my experience. 

In the Irish capital the sad news created great 
lamentation, for the music-loving people of Ireland 




always claimed Sullivan as one of their kindred, and, 
further, the knowledge that the subject of the pew 
opera upon which he was engaged was Irish intensified 
sympathetic interest in the sorrowful event. 

As in London, so in Dublin, the anxious question 
arose, " What will now become of ' The Emerald 
Isle ' ? " 

It soon became known that a large portion of the 
music was left unfinished by Sullivan. Three songs 
in the first act and five in the second act had not been 
set, and, with the exception of numbers 1 and 2 scored 
by Sir Arthur, the whole of the opera remained to be 
harmonized and orchestrated. General satisfaction 
followed the announcement that, by request of the 
author, Basil Hood, and Mr. Carte, the task of com- 
pleting the score had been undertaken by Edward 

In due course "The Emerald Isle" was finished, 
and, appropriately, on St. Patrick's Day the opera 
was placed in rehearsal at the Savoy, under the 
personal direction of the author, assisted by Richard 

Although Mr. Carte was in too weak a state of 
health to take any active part in the work of prepara- 
tion, everybody rejoiced to learn that the patient 
showed signs of wonderful improvement ; accordingly 
it was fondly hoped that the esteemed manager's 
strength would be sufficiently restored to allow him 
to witness the production of the piece. But it was 
not to be; a few days later Mr. Carte had a serious 
relapse, and his distinguished medical attendant, Sir 


Thomas Barlow, pronounced him to be in a critical 

On April 3rd, four months and a half after the 
death of Sir Arthur Sullivan, Richard D'Oyly Carte, 
the second of the famous Triumvirate, passed away 
in his London residence, No. 4, Adelphi Terrace, in 
the fifty-seventh year of his age. 

To musical London and a large sphere beyond the 
news of the death of the popular impresario came 
with a great shock. All Savoyards and associates of 
the Savoy felt they had lost a friend, one to whom 
they were indebted for a multitude of past joys. 

In the year 1844 D'Oyly Carte was born in Soho. 
His grandfather fought at Waterloo with "The 
Blues " ; his father was a member of Rudall and 
Carte, a well-known firm of musical-instrument 
makers. His mother, descended from a Suffolk branch 
of the D'Oyly family, was the daughter of a clergyman 
on the staff of the Chapels Royal. After passing 
through University College School, Richard D'Oyly 
Carte matriculated at London University, but in 
deference to the wish of his parents he abandoned 
the "higher education" and entered his father's 

It was at the beginning of the year 1873 that I 
made the acquaintance of Mr. Carte. Our first 
meeting came about in this way : whilst confined to 
bed for nearly a year in the Royal Naval Hospital, 
Plymouth, through an accident contracted in the 
service, I was guilty of writing a three-act comedy, 
entitled " Shipmates." Greatly to my astonishment 




the play was accepted by a theatrical manager for 
production in the provinces; whereupon, with the 
unblushing assurance of a budding dramatist, I went 
straightway to Arthur Sullivan and asked him if he 
would do me the favour to compose the music of a 
song incidental to my comedy. 

Sullivan, being busily engaged on his oratorio " The 
Light of the World/ 1 was unable to oblige me, but 
he gave me a letter of introduction to Mr. Frederic 
Clay, one of the most kind-hearted and genial men 
it was ever my pleasure to meet. Clay very promptly 
set my song, and a day or two later, when I called to 
see him at his office in the Treasury, he conducted 
me from thence up Whitehall to Craig's Court, and 
there introduced me to Mr. Carte, whose firm at once 
published the song called, by the way, " Lover Mine." 
This happy incident was the beginning of a lasting 
friendship, and formed another link in the chain of 
circumstances that eventually drew me into the 
family circle of the Savoy. 

For the public at large it is hardly possible to realize 
to what extent the remarkable success of the Savoy 
pieces was due to D'Oyly Carte. His post of duty 
resembled that of Chief Engineer on a great ocean 
liner. He was seldom seen " on deck." It was only 
on first nights that he gave his patrons the oppor- 
tunity of gazing upon him. But, all the while, it was 
owing to his skill and ceaseless care in the control 
of the motive power that the good pleasure-ship, 
The Savoy, with its rich argosy of mirth and melody, 
voyaged safely past the breakers and shallows that 


sometimes beset its usually calm and prosperous 
voyage. Without D'Oyly Carte's business instinct, 
his knowledge, sagacity, tact, and good taste, Gilbert 
and Sullivan might never have succeeded in emanci- 
pating the English stage from the vulgar inanities 
of those badly adapted, coarse richauffis of French 
opira bouffe which were served up ad nauseam to 
play-goers of tl*e unenlightened 'sixties. 

If only for his achievement in cleansing the Augean 
Stables of our theatres, the name of D'Oyly Carte 
must always remain honoured in the history of the 
English stage. Carte's energy and enterprise knew 
no bounds, but seldom did his ambition o'erleap 
itself. Perhaps, indeed, the only occasion where his 
judgment proved at fault was, not so much in the 
building of his palatial English Opera-house, as in 
believing that British operatic composers would be 
forthcoming when a suitable theatre was ready for 

It was a mistake to launch " Ivanhoe," to embark his 
fortunes on what was, admittedly, a bold experiment, 
without first providing a means of rescue in the shape 
of other operas to follow. But for this error in judg- 
ment, Carte's splendid aim to establish English opera 
might have been achieved — who <:an tell ? Never- 
theless, despite the failure of his scheme, the pro- 
moter was deserving of the greatest credit for his 
plucky venture, whilst Mr. Carte's financial ability in 
extricating himself from the undertaking was very 

To a casual observer D'Oyly Carte's true character 


and disposition was a problem not easy to solve. His 
customary attitude was that of a shy or nervous 
man. Whilst conversing with him, a stranger might 
not unreasonably imagine that he was indifferent 
to the subject under discussion ; he gave one the 
impression that his thoughts were wandering far 
away. His response often sounded vague and point- 
less, as though to signify that the matter did not 
interest but rather bored him to talk about. But 
all the while he was carefully weighing every word, 
twisting and turning its value over in his mind. His 
methods of transacting business were quite out of 
the common order, and not always easy to compre- 
hend for any but his trusty adjutants and servants, 
all of whom could testify to the wisdom and soundness 
of his instinct. 

Carte possessed a keen sense of humour, yet, whether 
listening to or telling a funny story, his countenance 
never betrayed appreciation of the joke. Not a muscle 
of his face relaxed ; he seemed as emotionless as the 
Sphinx. But behind the veil of apathy he laughed 
to his own heart's content. 

These reflections recall to mind an anecdote Carte 
used to tell against himself. It may be a " chestnut, 11 
but it is, I think, a digestible one. 

One day he had arranged to lunch with his old 
friend and colleague, Mr. Michael Gunn, at Romano's 
in the Strand. Gunn, after waiting for him some 
minutes, sent a young messenger across to the Savoy 
to remind Carte of the appointment. The youth 
found his way down to the stage, where an audition 


was taking place. He tried to approach the busy 
manager, but was abruptly told he must wait his 
turn. Whilst standing amongst the crowd, listening 
to the voice-trials, the messenger suddenly became 
stage-struck, and, believing he could sing as well as 
most of them, he thought he might venture to enter 
the competition. Accordingly, as soon as his turn 
came, he advanced boldly to the pianoforte, and 
was asked by the chorus-mistress what he would sing. 
Without hesitation he replied, " I am an Englishman. 11 
This well-known song from " H.M.S. Pinafore " he 
rendered to the best of his ability, but, as Carte after- 
wards related, the accent of Romano's employ 6 was 
much too Italian to belong to an Englishman, and he 
advised the young buffo profundo to apply at Covent 
Garden Opera-house. But the climax of the story 
came when the young man got back to Romano's. 

Mr. Gunn inquired what had kept him so long 
away, and if he had brought an answer from Mr. 

" No, sir," he replied, " I could not get near the 
gentleman, but — I've had my voice tried." 

D'Oyly Carte was a man of the most refined artistic 
taste, a virtue richly inherited by his sole surviving 
son, Mr. Rupert Carte. His home in Adelphi Terrace 
was furnished in a manner admirably in keeping 
with the decorative designs of Adam, with Angelica 
Kauffman medallions which enriched the walls and 
ceilings. In this connection a story is told of a certain 
art connoisseur who, calling upon Mr. Carte, was 
so lost in admiration of the surroundings of one ot 


the rooms as to be led to betray weakness in critical 
judgment. After studying, with the air of an expert, 
the chimney-piece, he remarked : " Ah ! we shall 
never see such workmanship as that again ! " Carte 
very considerately refrained from informing his guest 
that the chimney-piece he so greatly admired had 
been recently designed and fitted to match the modern 
appointments of the room. 

His library and billiard-room were decorated by 
Whistler, an old friend of D'Oyly Carte and his wife. 
Whistler personally mixed the paints for these rooms. 
Literary, artistic, and theatrical friends of Mr. Carte 
remember with pleasure the delightful " yellow " 
room at Adelphi Terrace, with its French windows 
overlooking the Thames. 

Of all the beautiful articles of furniture in his 
London house, that which Mr. Carte valued beyond 
all others was a luxurious sofa, the gift of Sir Arthur 
Sullivan. It was upon this he was lying when he 
breathed his last. 

Mr. D'Oyly Carte was twice married and left two 
sons — the eldest, Lucas, a barrister, who died in 1907, 
the other, Rupert, present chairman of the Savoy 
Hotel and owner of the performing rights of the 
Gilbert and Sullivan operas and the D'Oyly Carte 
Opera Company. 

To his second wife, formerly Miss Cowper Black, 
better known as Helen Lenoir, Mr. Carte was in a 
large measure indebted for his remarkable success, 
but to this subject further reference will, it is hoped, 
be made before the close of this book. 


Richard D'Oyly Carte was buried, in accordance 
with his request, at F&irlight, Hastings, the funeral 
being conducted privately. A handsome Memorial 
Window in the Savoy Chapel Royal testifies to the 
esteem in which he was held by all who knew him. 



Discipline and esprit de carps — Unabated enthusiasm in the provinces 
— A Classic Acting-Manager — No " fish " stories admitted — Fred 
Billington's views and experiences — Gilbert and Sullivan operas in 
America, Africa, and the Continent — English theatre orchestras 
compared with German — State subsidy — George Grossmith and 
George Thome — Johannesburg — An absconding dresser — Billington 
and Workman robbed — Francis Cellier's visits to Africa — Henry 
A. Lytton — Gilbertian actor of many parts— Touring — Its bright 
and its dark side— Company snowed up — Leicester Tunks's birth- 
day supper-party — The Gilbert and Sullivan operas in Oxford and 

Five years have passed since the last performance of 
a Gilbert and Sullivan opera took place at the Savoy, 
but during that period Londoners have had frequent 
opportunities of renewing the acquaintance of their 
old favourites through the medium of the D'Oyly 
Carte Touring Company at suburban theatres. At 
the present moment a widespread appeal is being 
made for the revival of the operas at their old home 
or in some other West End theatre where, it is sug- 
gested, an annual season of Gilbert and Sullivan 
would prove sufficiently attractive to ensure a pro- 
fitable return. There are, doubtless, many difficulties 
in the way of carrying out the scheme which do not 
enter into the consideration of the public. Whether 



Mr. Rupert IVOyly Carte is disposed to entertain the 
proposition, or to rest content with the periodical 
visits of his country company to outer London, 
remains a Cabinet secret. 

It might not unreasonably be imagined that the 
members of the touring company, principals and 
chorus alike, would grow stale and slack by constant 
repetition of the operas, week in, week out, during 
eleven months of every year ; but seldom is there to 
be noticed any falling away in the quality of the 
performances. Under close managerial watchfulness 
and unrelaxing discipline, the high traditions of the 
Savoy are upheld. But above and beyond that, 
there exists a strong esprit de corps. Like the units 
of a crack regiment, the D'Oyly Carte actors and 
actresses are proud of their flag and jealous to defend 
its honour and their own reputation. If it were 
otherwise they would long ago have worn out their 
welcome in the provinces, seeing that in Manchester, 
Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow and 
Edinburgh — in fact, in all the big towns visited by 
the company — play-goers are no whit less critical and 
exacting, perhaps more so, than those of the metro- 
polis. But there is no sign of enthusiasm abating. 
Everywhere the Red and Black preliminary posters 
of the " D'Oyly Carte Repertory Company " awaken 
glad anticipation, and the theatres are crowded 
throughout the period of their stay. My own per- 
sonal experience of " the Road " being comparatively 
limited, I invited Mr. Henry E. Bellamy, who, for 
twenty years or more, has held the position of Acting- 


Manager, to contribute any interesting data relating 
to his tours. I hoped, for instance, that he might 
be able to give an estimate of the number of miles 
he has traversed whilst journeying through Great 
Britain, Ireland, and also South Africa, where he has 
thrice captained the company. I went so far as to 
tempt him to divulge a state secret by informing the 
public as to the approximate amount of £ s. d. he 
had taken since he entered the service. But all in 
vain; my friend, who is not generally of a bashful 
or reserved disposition, yet ever discreet, replied that 
the mathematical problems I had set him were beyond 
his ability to solve. I should have remembered that 
classics are his forte, and that, if I desired to brighten 
my book with a few choice Latin quotations, Henry 
Bellamy was the man to supply them. He very kindly 
offered to contribute any amount of prime fishing 
stories if they would be of any use, but, thanking 
him, I remarked that I should be sorry to discount 
the pleasure of the multitude who delight in listening 
to, even if they do not always credit, the tales of his 
piscatorial adventures. Further, I assured him that 
my object was to include in these pages nothing but 
the truth, the whole truth, and — no fish stories. 

Mr. Fred Billington I found much more ready to 
oblige, and, in response to my request for a few notes, 
the genial comedian denied himself the pleasure of a 
round on the golf-links in order to prepare an outline 
sketch of his views and experiences in connection with 
the D'Oyly Carte Company. 

Fred Billington is one of the most popular " strolling 


players " of his day. His name is one to conjure with 
in every part of the country, and any incidents relating 
to his career as a Gilbert and Sullivan actor will be 
interesting to a large number of play-goers. 

Mr. Billington joined the D'Oyly Carte Company 
in 1879, making his first appearance at the Standard 
Theatre, Shoreditch, as Bill Bobstay, boatswain's 
mate of " H.M.S. Pinafore/' and has ever since 
then remained staunch to the Savoy Operas. 
He has played Pooh Bah well over three thousand 
three hundred times, this number including perform- 
ances in England, America, and the continents oi 
Europe and Africa. He has twice gone with the 
Company to South Africa, and, the veteran adds : " I 
have paid one official visit to Balmoral, where I bad 
the honour of presenting Pooh Bah to Her Majesty 
Queen Victoria." 

No one who has witnessed Billington's clever 
character-study of the Gaoler in "The Yeomen of 
the Guard" will be surprised to learn that Shadbolt 
is his favourite part. It is certainly his best part 
one that might have been designed expressly for him, 
so perfectly does it suit his dry and unctuous style 
of humour. 

Touching his personal impressions of provincial 
audiences, Billington pronounces them to be, as a 
rule, good everywhere, but he awards the palm to 
the Northern towns. 

" In Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, and New- 
castle," he says, "the strongest evidence of ap- 

21^^.; 7 


preciation is shown. In the Midlands also, the operas 
meet with loyal support. Yorkshire, my native 
county, I cannot speak so well of, except, perhaps, 
Sheffield. Sheffield, by the way, was the very first 
town to understand Gilbert's humour ! But I must 
not forget our good Irish friends and patrons, who 
always give us such warm welcome that we look 
forward to our periodical visits to Dublin and 
Belfast with infinite pleasure. Provincial audiences 
are variable in every way. This makes touring 
interesting. We never know what to expect. Fresh 
audiences, fresh orchestras, towns, theatres, dressing- 
rooms, lodgings and hotels, all offer such constant 
variety that there is no likelihood of getting stale, as 
one is prone to become after a long run in London, 
where to be given a good part in a successful play is 
often a misfortune to the actor. He finds himself 
transformed into a star, and immediately fancies he 
has reached heaven, where there is no necessity to 
work hard for a living ; and so he often gets careless 
and acquires a contempt for the provinces where 
he has probably learnt his business. 

" Appreciation of Gilbert and Sullivan is also variable. 
The audiences in some towns are apathetic ; Gilbert's 
wittiest sayings are received as solemnly as if they 
were sermons from the Reverend Doctor Dryasdust, 
but in those towns of the North which I have specified 
and also in Ireland, the people are very loyal to 
' Ours, 1 and, if I am not mistaken, they will continue 
to be so long after you and I are forgotten. 

" Africa I liked immensely. Life there is so entirely 
different from what one is accustomed to at home or 
in France, Germany, or America — I mean not only 
theatrical but social and general life. But the towns 
lie so far apart that railway journeys are not only 
trying to one's nerves and patience, but lay a heavy 



tax on the managerial exchequer. Johannesburg is 
the best town in South Africa for business, but sorry 
is the lot of the management that does not draw 
crowded houses there. Failing to do so means a vary 
heavy loss on a big company like our own. Fortu- 
nately, we hit the bull's-eye of popular taste, and 
Manager Bellamy left the town a wealthier man 
than when he entered it. 

" In Cape Town, Durban, Maritzburg, Pretoria and 
Bloemfontein, the theatres, if packed at ordinary 
prices, only just enable a big company to pay expenses. 

" Touching American audiences," Bulington con- 
tinues, " they are, as every British actor knows, 
splendid people to play to. If you give them a good 
show they shower honours upon you, but if you fail 
to please them they tell you so in plain words, and 
their language is sometimes worthy of Limehouse. 
I'm thankful to say I got on very well with them. 
Pooh Bah was quite to their liking. 

" Whilst in the States we also tried ' Ruddigore' 
This was a frost ; the Americans were not for taking 
any witch's curses. As for 'The Gondoliers/ as 
everybody knows, across the herring-pond the opera 
was known as ' The Gone-dollars.' 

" Business on the Continent was variable. We 

Elayed ' Mikado/ ' Pinafore/ ' Patience/ and ' Trial 
y Jury * in Germany, Holland, Austria, and Bavaria. 
To Berlin we returned four times to appear either 
at the Walner or the Krolls Theatre. One notable 
feature of our German audiences was their enthusiastic 
reception of Sullivan's music, especially his concerted 
pieces; on the other hand, Gilbert's humour was 
nowhere understood. Such a specimen of a man-o'- 
war sailor as Dick Deadeye of ' H.M.S. Pinafore/ the 
Press remarked, would never be admitted into the 
German Imperial Navy, and if ' Trial by Jury * was 


a sample of English law proceedings, they preferred 
their own methods. 

"On the Continent the orchestras, everywhere, 
were magnificent, numbering never less than forty, 
sometimes as many as eighty, and all excellent players. 

"The inadequacy of our English provincial orches- 
tras is terrible. Only the most hardened artist can 
witness, unmoved, tne murder of Sullivan's scores, 
when twenty instruments have to do the work of 
sixty or seventy. Our native instrumentalists may be, 
doubtless they are, individually as proficient as the 
foreigners, but to compare the numerical strength 
of an ordinary English provincial orchestra with 
those found even in second or third-class German 
theatres is as unfair as it is absurd, seeing that, in 
Germany, theatre bands are subsidized by Govern- 
ment. Sullivan did what he could to try and per- 
suade the powers that be to adopt the foreign policy, 
but English Home Rule, as regards music or any 
other branch of art, was not to be discussed or inter- 
fered with. 

"During my thirty-six years' association with the 
Gilbert and Sullivan operas I have acted with thirty- 
six Josephines in ' Pinafore ' ; sung under thirteen 
conductors, including Sullivan himself and Alfred 
Cellier ; I have been cast with a dozen Jack Points, 
one of whom was George Thome, who actually created 
some of what are known as 'The Grossmith' parts. 
In witness whereof f The Referee ' some years ago, 
in answer to a correspondent, said : ' Yes, George 
Grossmith was the original Jack Point, but George 
Thorne created the part/ A paradox only to be dis- 
entangled by those who knew George Thome/' 

Such are Mr. Billington's interesting and instructive 
notes. But our old friend omits to mention a serio- 


comic incident which occurred to him in South 

The story, as related to me by Mr. C. H. Workman, 
concerns an affair which occurred in Johannesburg, 
where, we have been informed, a pile of money was 
taken by the management. 

Billington and Workman shared a dressing-room at 
the theatre, and were waited upon by the best and 
smartest dresser that had ever fallen to their lot 
He was an Englishman, so they naturally trusted 
him. But their over-confidence proved costly to 
them. One " Treasury " night before leaving Johan- 
nesburg, when, at the end of the performance of " The 
Mikado," Koko and Pooh Bah returned to their 
room to disrobe, no dresser was to be found, nor 
were their purses, watches, and other valuables. 
Their estimable attendant had left without saying 

Billington, I am told, gave vent to his wrath is 
some of his choicest Yorkshire vernacular ; Workman 
was equally vehement in a minor key. However, as 
soon as they had resumed their ordinary twentieth- 
century attire, Billington observed, "Thank the 
Lord, Workie, we won't have to tip him this week." 

Francois Cellier, who twice accompanied the IXOyly 
Carte Company to South Africa, used to say that those 
trips were among the most pleasant events of his 

Next in seniority to Fred Billington in the existing 
D'Oyly Carte Touring Company comes Henry Lytton, 
who made his first appearance in Gilbert and Sullivan's 


opera as a member of the Savoy Chorus in 1884. It 
was not until three years later that he was promoted 
from the ranks. His opportunity came when he 
was called upon, at a few hours 9 notice, to play Robin 
Oakapple in " Ruddigore " — the part vacated by 
George Grossmith a few nights after production. 
His success determined Mr. Caxte to entrust him with 
the leading comedian's roles on tour. Ten years 
later he was suddenly recalled to the Savoy, again 
to relieve Grossmith, who had resigned his part in Sir 
Alexander Mackenzie's opera, " His Majesty." From 
that time onward, with intervals, during which he 
fulfilled other engagements away from the Carte 
management, Lytton has appeared in all the Savoy 
revivals, and, when these came to an end, returned 
with the company to the provinces, where he has long 
been an established favourite. As a versatile actor 
his record is remarkable. 

To mention only a few of Mr. Lytton' s achievements. 
In " The Sorcerer " he has succeeded Barrington as 
the Vicar; in "H.M.S. Pinafore" he has played 
Captain Corcoran and Dick Deadeye ; in " The 
Pirates of Penzance," the Major-General and the 
Pirate King ; Grosvenor in " Patience " ; Strephon 
in " Iolanthe " ; in " The Mikado " he has appeared 
both in the title-r61e and as Ko-Ko ; in " The Gon- 
doliers," Giuseppe Palmieri, and also the Duke of 
Plaza Toro ; and in " The Yeomen of the Guard " 
he has played, in turn, Wilfred Shadbolt and Jack 

This list, incomplete as it is, will suffice to show 


Lyt ton's extraordinary aptitude to assume and success- 
fully to portray characters of varying and very distinct 
type. It has been the bad fortune of this clever and 
hard-working comedian never to create a part in a 
Savoy opera. All the more is it to his credit that 
his name should have become eminent on the list of 
famous Savoyards. 

Theatrical touring is not all pleasure, play, and 
picnic. Sometimes, indeed, it is as arduous and 
irksome as army campaigning. During the summer 
months when the company is visiting seaside places 
and holiday resorts, the members' lot is far from an 
unenviable one, but the reverse side of the picture is 
seen when the dark, chill days of winter return. 
Sunday after Sunday, no matter what the weather 
or the conditions of health or inclination, the actors 
and actresses are called upon to bustle off, bag and 
baggage, to continue their route to the next town. 
Often the journey across country is very long and 
tedious, such, for example, as that from Plymouth to 
Sheffield, or from Portsmouth to Edinburgh. But the 
arrangements made conjointly by the Acting-Manager 
and the railway companies for special train-service 
are so admirably regulated and timed that there is 
seldom any cause for complaint. There are, necefr- 
sarily, occasions when the patience and endurance of 
the hardest campaigner is severely tried. 

Let me recall one very exceptional adventure. 

About five years ago, the D'Oyly Carte Company 
were snowed up for more than twelve hours whilst 
journeying from Dundee to Aberdeen. A fierce 


was raging, and the poor girls of the com- 
pany, who, on the evening before, had been basking 
as Contadine on " Venetia's sunny shore/' had now 
to endure the rigours of an Arctic climate. The 
journey, under normal conditions, being comparatively 
a short one, few members of the company had pro- 
vided themselves with so much as a bun or a biscuit 
for refreshment. Heaven only knows what would 
have become of them had not Providence, in the 
person of Mr. Leicester Tunks, one of the joint Kings 
of Barataria, come to the rescue. Fortunately, it so 
happened that it was Tunks 1 birthday, and to cele- 
brate the anniversary he had invited several of his 
colleagues to sup with him on arrival at Aberdeen. 
Knowing that theatrical landladies are not always to 
be relied upon in emergency, he had taken the pre- 
caution to bring with him from Dundee a Gargantuan 
steak- and- kidney pie, together with sundry confections 
for which the constituency of our Admiralty's First 
Lord is noted, and a bottle or two of the best Highland 
Blend, Bottled Bass, et cetera. Accordingly, the 
popular baritone's birthday party, which took place 
in the train at midnight, if not quite in keeping with 
the traditions of supper at the Savoy, was not to be 
despised by the most fastidious. Nobody was heard 
to grumble at the absence of knives and forks; one 
and all forgot they were buried in a snowdrift, and 
everybody declared that Leicester Tunks deserved 
the Carnegie reward for noble service done in saving 
his fellow-travellers from starvation. 
In no town visited by the D'Oyly Carte Opera 


Company do they meet with a heartier welcome 
than in Oxford and Cambridge. The 'Varsity men, 
dark blues and light blues alike, rush in crowds to 
the theatre with excitement only less intense than 
that they show at their boat-race or cricket-match 
at Lords. In fact, if truth be told, their enthusiasm 
at those annual meetings is more veiled and circum- 
spect than when they assemble to greet " The Mikado." 
They are splendid audiences to play to : dons, proc- 
tors or undergraduates, one and all alike listen intently 
throughout, and, appreciating every point of the 
opera, the elders mop their eye-glasses, dimmed with 
the breath of their delight, whilst the students roar 
their applause as only British youths can do. In 
Oxford and Cambridge the Gilbert and Sullivan 
operas not only are accepted as the highest type of 
theatrical entertainment, but have long been acknow- 
ledged as classics and honoured as such. 



Influence of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas upon amateur acting- 
Establishment and growth of operatic and dramatic societies — 
Business control and discipline puts an end to the old style of 
" go-as-you-please " — A few tales about unprofessional players. 

Among the many extraneous influences of the Gilbert 
and Sullivan operas on all branches of society at 
large, none is more remarkable than the impetus they 
have given to amateur performances. 

In days previous to the "Pinafore" period, the 
amateur actor and actress were looked upon as quacks 
and interlopers, and as such treated with sublime 
contempt and ridicule by the profession. But all 
is changed. Amateur societies have become a power- 
ful adjunct and support to the culture of music and 
the drama. They are now accepted as useful training- 
schools for the legitimate stage, and from the volun- 
teer ranks have sprung many present-day favourites. 
Well-organized institutions exist in every part of the 
country. Progressing from strength to strength, they 
have grown so strong and independent that they 
admit to their circle none but qualified aspirants to 
stage honours. Advancing still further, some of the 



leading operatic and dramatic clubs engage the 
services of London theatrical agencies to co-operate 
with them in forming the strongest available cast of 
principals for the drama or opera they select for 
performance. That this state of things is attributable 
in a very large measure to the popularity of, and the 
infectious craze for performing, the Gilbert and 
Sullivan operas can hardly be questioned. To estab- 
lish this theory it is only necessary to study Douglas's 
Directory, a useful publication issued by the National 
Amateur and Dramatic Association, founded in Feb- 
ruary 1899. This admirably compiled booklet con- 
tains, among sundry other items of information, a 
complete list of performances given in all towns 
where bond fide Amateur Societies exist in affiliation 
with the National Association. From this it will 
be gathered how vastly the Savoy operas transcend 
all others in the number of performances given. 

To Mr. Howard J. Hadley, the Honorary General 
Secretary of the Association, I am indebted for some 
convincing statistics. I cannot do better than quote 
from Mr. Hadley' s letter : 

" With the aid of Douglas's Directory (1914) I find 
there are about thirty-six Operatic Societies in London 
and district, of which about twenty would be playing 
Gilbert and Sullivan operas in any one year, giving an 
average of five performances for each society. This 
would amount to one hundred performances in the 

" As to the provinces, there are about three hundred 
and twelve Operatic Societies, and of these about one 


hundred and seventy-three produce Gilbert and Sulli- 
van operas, and, given an average of five performances, 
the total would be eight hundred and sixty-five 
performances : altogether, nine hundred and sixty-five 
m one year for the United Kingdom. 

"With regard to our Association, of which I can 
speak with more certain knowledge, out of a total of 
one hundred and seventy-seven Operatic Societies, 
about seventy-six of these produce Gilbert and Sullivan 
operas and average five annual performances each, 
the total amounting to three hundred and eighty 

"The Birmingham Amateur Opera Society is, I 
think, one of the oldest in the kingdom, and has, 
between the years 1886 and 1914, given about one 
hundred and twenty performances of Gilbert and 
Sullivan operas, and the Worcester Amateur Operatic 
Society comes a good second. Formed in 1892, it 
has up to the present time (1914) given nearly eighty 
performances of the operas under the stage direction 
of one man, viz. Mr. Shelford Walsh (a Worcester 
man). This, I think, is a record. 

"The chief beauty and the greatest attraction 
which these operas possess is that they are absolutely 
* clean ' ; the quiet humour is abundant and inimit- 
able, whilst the music has a lingering, lilting leaven 
about it which is absolutely delightful, and always 
makes one long for more. I think one's whole being 
feels the better after an evening with Gilbert and 
Sullivan opera. It is ever a most satisfying, exhilarat- 
ing feast. 

" A fact not unworthy to mention is that Societies 
affiliated to our Association have contributed to 
charities no less a sum than £54,000, and maintain 
many beds in local infirmaries. This alone may be 
said to justify their existence/ 9 


This rough statement, coming from unimpeachable 
authority, will astonish all who before were ignorant 
of the wonderful march made by the army of amateurs. 
That their advance continues whilst their ranks increase 
in strength, I have received further assurance from 
Mr. W. Sims-Bull, stage-manager of the Savoy during 
Mr. Workman's regime, who, by virtue of his experi- 
ence and practical knowledge of the requirements of 
the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, is much sought after 
by Amateur Societies as Stage-coach and producer. 

Mr. Bull relates how in the year 1882 his father 
applied to Mr. D'Oyly Carte for permission to perform 
" Iolanthe " in Cheltenham. Mr. Carte's reply was 
in the negative. The Savoy manager did not, at 
that time, feel justified in encouraging amateurs; 
he believed that their expenses could not possibly be 
covered by receipts, whilst, on his part, he was not 
in a position to forego or reduce the author's fee. 
Five years later, when the application was renewed 
and permission granted, " Iolanthe " was performed 
in the Winter Gardens, Cheltenham, and from the 
profits a substantial sum was handed over to a 
local charity. 

Mr. Sims-Bull remarks how, everywhere, even in 
the small towns, amateurs have come to realize that 
strict discipline and business methods are indispensable 
at rehearsal, and that every part must be suitably 
cast. This marks a wide departure from the con- 
ditions existing not so very long ago. 

Some of Sims-Bull's experiences with amateurs are 
very amusing. For instance, at a rehearsal of " Fina- 


fore/ 1 the gentleman cast for Captain Corcoran 
conceived the brilliant idea of chasing Dick Dead-eye 
round the quarter-deck with a bladder at the end 
of a stick, after the fashion of a clown in pantomime ; 
the actor was quite sure it would get the laugh of 
the evening, but the manager assured him that the 
use of bladders on board " H.M.S. Pinafore " was 
contrary to the Gilbertian articles of war. On another 
occasion a feeble- voiced tenor, whose opinion of him* 
self was far superior to his artistic ability, objected 
to a stage-cloth because it destroyed the ring of 
his notes. 

A young lady without the slightest pretensions to 
shine either as singer or actress was given the part of 
Elsie Maynard in "The Yeomen of the Guard/' by 
virtue of her father being Mayor of the Borough; 
whilst the part of Phoebe in the same opera was 
allotted to an elderly spinster who could afford to 
pay for the position, and insisted upon her skirt being 
made long enough to cover her ankles. 

In " The Gondoliers/ 1 the lady impersonating Casilda 
had, a few months previously, entered the bonds of 
matrimony ; it was accordingly rather disconcerting 
when in singing the lines— 

44 But, bless my heart, consider my position, 
I am the wife of one, that's very clear" — 

the word "condition" was substituted for "posi- 

But slips of the tongue are not confined to amateurs. 
Miss Jessie Bond, for example, confesses to one strange 


lapsus linguae. It occurred in "Patience/ 9 where 
she had to speak the line — 

" Retribution like a poisdd hawk came swooping down upon the 

Instead of " poisdd hawk " Miss Bond said " hoisfcd 
pawk." To some it may have suggested that Lady 
Angela's thoughts were in the clouds, intent on solving 
the problem " might pigs fly " ! 

Anecdotes relating to the eccentricities and conceits 
of the old school of amateurs might fill a bulky volume, 
but, finding how few pages remain before this present 
book must close, we may not further enlarge on the 

But, by the way, I must not omit to mention the 
fact that the best amateur performance of a Gilbert 
and Sullivan piece I ever witnessed was that of " The 
Mikado," given by the Dunedin (New Zealand) 
Operatic Society. The staging may not have been 
in strict conformity with the Savoy Prompt-book, 
still, there was nothing so irreverent as would have 
vexed the mind of the author had he been present 
The refined acting of the principals, their clear enuncia- 
tion, and the grouping of the Chorus showed that the 
Company had been carefully drilled by one who had 
become acquainted with Gilbertian traditions. But 
it was chiefly as singers that the New Zealand Ama- 
teurs shone. A better Chorus I have never heard. 
Listening to them for the first time, I was astounded 
by the volume of rich tone and the admirable phrasing ; 
still more remarkable was it to note how nearly 


1 Sullivan's tempo was observed throughout the per- 
formance. It may seem incredible that Gilbert and 
Sullivan should be so thoroughly understood and 
reverenced in that far-away Dominion; but New 
Zealand has been made well acquainted with the 
Savoy operas by the periodical visits of the travelling 
i companies controlled by the late J. C. Williamson, 
;; who leased the Australasian rights in the pieces. 






" The Emerald Isle "—Hood and German's collaboration— Sullivan's 
swan-song— The fairy cleaner—" The Emerald Isle " in Dublin- 
Bin. D'Oyly Carte resumes management with revivals— A gab 
last night— A pleasant surprise — Mr. C. H. Workman manager 
of the Savoy— " Fallen Fairies"— A story concerning "Jack 
Point " at rehearsal— Death of Sir William Gilbert. 

But now to return to the Savoy. With the death of 
Sir Arthur Sullivan, closely followed by that of Mr. 
D'Oyly Carte, this volume might, not untimely, end 
But there yet remain events and incidents connected 
with the story of the Savoy under the D'Oyly Carte 
management which may, without creating an anti- 
climax, form the subject of our concluding chapters. 
The last of the famous Triumvirate, Sir William 
Gilbert, yet lived and, although he had, since the pro- 
duction of "The Grand-duke," ceased to take an 
active interest in Savoy affairs, he was still at hand 
ready to assist in the supervision of the revivals of his 
pieces from time to time. 

But the sole management of the Savoy now devolved 
upon Mrs. D'Oyly Carte, under whose responsibility 
" The Emerald Isle, or the Caves of Carrig•Cieena, ,, 
was produced on Saturday, April 27th, 1901, with the 

following cast : 




The Earl of Newtown, K.P. . . Mr. Jonbs Hbwson 

(Lord Lieutenant of Ireland) 
Dr. Fiddle, D.D Mr, R. Rous 

(His Private Chaplain) 
Terence O'Brian . Mr. Robert Evbtt 

(A Young Rebel) 
Professor Bunn Mr. Walter Passmorb 

(Shakespearian Reciter, Character 
Impersonator, etc.) 
Pat Murphy .... Mr. Henry A. Lytton 

(A Fiddler) 

Black Dan Mr, W. H. Leon 

Mickie O'Hara .... Mr. C. Earldon 

(Irish Peasants) 
Sergeant Pincher .... Mr. R. Crompton 
Private Perry .... Mr. P. Pinder 

(H.M. zith Regiment of Foot) 
The Countess of Newtown . Miss Rosina Brandram 
Lady Rosie Pippin . Miss Isabel Jay 

(Her Daughter) 
Molly O'Grady . • . Miss Louie Pounds 

(A Peasant Girl) 
Susan Miss Blanche Gaston-Murray 

(Lady Rosie's Maid) 

Nora Miss Lulu Evans 

Kathleen .... Miss Agnes Fraser 

(Peasant Girls) 

Irish Peasants and Soldiers of nth Regiment of Foot 

Act 1.— Outside the Lord-Lieutenants Country Residence 
Act II. — The Caves of Carrig-Cleena 

(W. Harford) 

Period. — About a Hundred Years Ago 

Produced under the Personal Direction of the Author, and under 
the Stage-direction of Mr. R. Barker. 

Musical Director • . . Mr. Francois Cellier 


The libretto of "The Emerald Isle" was pro- 
nounced to be altogether worthy of the author of 
" The Rose of Persia/' Captain Basil Hood had con- 
ceived an interesting story of Irish rural life, with its 
picturesque scenes of peasant bhoys and pretty colleens 
clad in the costumes of a century ago. In admirable 
contrast to these merry-hearted rustics of "the 
distressful counthree" were introduced an aristo- 
cratic Lord-Lieutenant and his high-born wife, neither 
of whom ever discoursed in anything but Shake- 
spearean blank verse. These magniloquent Vice- 
Royalties were escorted, wherever they went, by a 
gallant Devon Regiment in their curious uniforms of 
the Georgian period. A capital character-sketch of a 
sturdy Devonian was that of Sergeant Pincher, played 
to the life by Mr. Reginald Crompton, himself a native 
of the land of loveliness and clotted cream. The 
Sergeant's song and chorus, composed by Edward 
German and rendered in broad Devonshire dialect, 
was one of the hits of the piece. Basil Hood's lines 
may not appeal to all readers, but, coming, as I do, from 
the wild west-country parts, I feel impelled to quote 
stanzas so thoroughly characteristic of the land. 

Now this be the song of the Devonshire men 

(With a bimble and a bumble and the best of 'em I) 

And the maids they have left on the moor and the fen — 

There was Mary Hooper and Mary Cooper and Jane Tucker 
and Emily Snngg and Susan Wickens and Hepzibah Lagg 
and pretty Polly Potter and the rest of 'em ! 

The Sergeant he came a-recruiting one day 

(With a bimble and a bumble for the best of 'em 1) 


And the maids cried " Alack ! " when the men went away — 
There was Thomas Perry and Thomas Merry and Jan Hadley 
and Timothy Mudd and Harry Budgen and Oliver Rudd and 
Ebenezer Pincher and the rest of 'em ! 

So the men marched away in their bright scarlet coats. 
Though they shouted " Hooray ! " they had lumps in their throats, 
And the maids fell a-crying, as maids often do, 
Saying, " Oh, will our lovers be faithful and true ? " 

But some day they will march into Devon, and then 

(With a bimble and a bumble and the best of 'em! ) 

All the maids will be taking the names of the men — 

There'll be Mary Perry and Mary Merry and Jane Hadley and 
Emily Mudd and Susan Budgen and Hepzibah Rudd and 
pretty Polly Pincher and the rest of 'em! 

The Sergeant he may come recruiting once more 

(With a bimble and a bumble for the best of 'em 1) 

There will always be Devonshire men for the war — 

There'll be young Tom Perry and young Tom Merry and young 
Hadley and little Tim Mudd and young Hal Budgen and a 
juvenile Rudd and a little Ebenezer and the rest of 'em 1 

From these brief notes it will easily be seen how far 
the author showed his appreciation of the value of 
contrasts in colour and characterization. 

Whilst the sympathy of all Savoyards was, naturally, 
with Basil Hood in the loss he had sustained through 
the death of his gifted colleague so shortly after they 
had begun successful collaboration, cause to con- 
gratulate the author was forthcoming when it was 
found with what masterly skill and taste Edward 
German had completed the score left unfinished by 
Sullivan. Distinct in their individual style as were 


• lijC^^CCrl 

the two composers, Sullivan and German 
the strain of what we must call, for lack of a more 
technically correct description, " motherland melody." 
Thus, Hood's well-turned lyrics, both the graceful 
and the humorous, were set to music by German in a 
tone that blended as perfectly as could be expected 
with the numbers composed before his death by Sir 
Arthur Sullivan. Every lover of Sullivan will remem- 
ber that " The Emerald Isle " contains the master's 
swan-song : 

'• ' Come away ' sighs the Fairy voice, 
' Come follow me to Carrig-Cleena I 
4 For there I make all aching hearts rejoice, 

Come — come away.' " 

Although thirteen years have passed since it was 
heard at the Savoy, the refrain of that beautiful melody 
must often haunt the ears and awaken a pathetic 
memory in the mind of every one who listened to it 

I am here reminded of an incident which occurred 
during the rehearsal of " The Emerald Isle." One 
morning, whilst Mrs. D'Oyly Carte was surveying the 
stage proceedings from the heights of the upper circle, 
one of the ladies of the company, observing the figure 
through the dim light of the auditorium, directed the 
attention of the stage-manager, Richard Barker, to 
what she supposed to be an intruder. Barker, who was 
a bit of a wag in his way, glanced upward, and, mis- 
taking his worthy manageress for one of the theatre 
charwomen engaged on her duties, replied : " Never 
mind her, my dear, she won't hurt — it's only the Fairy 


Cleaner ! " A moment later Mrs. Carte, from the 
front row of the circle, called down : " Mr. Barker, 

might I suggest that " " Good heavens I " gasped 

the stage-manager, "it's the Missus ! " 

Shortly after the production of " The Emerald 
Isle/' Mrs. D'Oyly Carte let the theatre to Mr. William 
Greet, who continued the run of the Hood-Sullivan- 
German opera with great success before sending the 
piece on tour with the full Savoy Company. 

I happened to be again in Dublin during the visit 
of " The Emerald Isle " company. There was some 
doubt as to the kind of reception the opera would 
meet with at the hands of Irish play-goers. On the 
opening night, led by curiosity, I took up a position 
at the back of the pit of the Gaiety Theatre, and 
anxiously awaited events. Strange to relate, all the 
points which it was feared might touch the sensi- 
bilities of the Dublin people met with nothing but 
hearty applause. All went smoothly until the general 
dance, which occurs in the second act. Then, because 
it was supposed the jig-step was not quite correct, or 
that the girls lifted their heels too high, a torrent of 
booking burst upon the house. A sympathetic Patrick 
standing immediately in front of me shouted out in 
a lusty voice: "Arrah nhowl Can't ye be aisy if 
on'y out of rishpect for the dead composer ? " To 
which another voice responded: "Eh Sorr, an 9 an 
Oirishman too he was, so he was ! " This appeal had 
a magic effect on the rowdies, and the performance 
continued without further disturbance. 

Let the truth be told : there are no more devout 


lovers of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas than the 
warm-hearted people of The Emerald Isle. And 
sound critics they are, too ! 

Mr. William Greet, during his tenancy of the Savoy, 
produced, in succession to " The Emerald Isle/' first, 
Hood and German's charming opera, " Merrie Eng- 
land/' and, after that, another musical {day of a lighter 
type, "The Princess of Kensington," by the same 
author and composer. 

On resuming management in December 1906, Mrs. 
D'Oyly Carte began a series of Gilbert and Sullivan 
revivals under the personal stage-supervision of the 
author. These revivals, which continued, with occa- 
sional intervals, up to March 1909, beyond proving 
the wonderful vitality of the operas, were uneventful ; 
yet it may be interesting to record one or two memor- 
able incidents that marked the period which was, 
alas ! to bring to a close the active managerial regime 
of Mrs. D'Oyly Carte. For instance, on Saturday, 
August 24th, 1907, which date ended a successful eight 
months* season, the management celebrated the 
occasion by providing a mixed richauffS of tit-bits 
from the Savoy Repertory. The entertainment, which 
took the form of a Wagnerian " Ring " performance, 
opened at 4 o'clock in the afternoon with Act I. of 
" The Yeomen of the Guard," followed by the second 
act of "The Gondoliers." After an interval of an 
hour and a quarter, the amber curtains were withdrawn, 
to reveal the second act of " Patience " ; and then 
Mrs. Carte sprung an agreeable surprise upon the 


The evening's programme announced two items 
only — selections from " Patience " and " Iolanthe " ; 
great, then, was the shout of applause when the familiar 
Overture to " The Mikado " was heard ; greater still 
the rapture when a scene from the popular piece was 
interpolated. The promised revival of the Japanese 
opera had a short time previously been cancelled in 
deference to considerations of State Diplomacy, but 
now, the conditions being changed, the public were 
privileged to enjoy a dainty bonnt-boucht from their 
favourite dish. It was a very happy thought of Mrs. 
D'Oyly Carte's, and was greatly appreciated by the 

A complete chronological list of the last Savoy 
Revivals, with the cast of each opera, will be found in 
an Appendix at the end of this book. It may be 
useful for reference. The success which attended 
those presumably final performances encourages the 
belief that an annual season of a Gilbert and Sullivan 
R6pertoire in Central London would prove as re- 
munerative to the management as it would be accept- 
able, assuredly, to the thousands of metropolitan 
play-goers who at the present time are crying out 
in their hunger for another feast of their favourite 

In March 1909, Mr. C. H. Workman, having acquired 
from Mrs. D'Oyly Carte a short lease of the Savoy, 
entered upon the management of that theatre. The 
clever comedian had made a host of friends and 
admirers by his triumphs in the " Grossmith " parts. 
Of his Jack Point it is worthy to note that Sir William 


Gibert, in a public speech, expressed his opinion in 
the following complimentary terms : 

" In Mr. Workman we have a Jack Point of the finest 
and most delicate finish, and I feel sure that no one 
will more readily acknowledge the triumph he has 
achieved in their old parts than his distinguished pro- 
tagonist, Mr. George Grossmith, and his immediate 
predecessor, Mr. Passmore." 

Under such auspices, and with such credentials, there 
seemed every reason to hope that success might 
reward Workman's plucky venture. At the same 
time, remembering Mr. D'Oyly Carte's experience at 
the Savoy away from Gilbert and Sullivan, one 
needed great faith to venture the prediction that Mr. 
Workman, or even a more experienced manager, would 
overcome the prejudice that existed against the pro- 
duction at the Savoy of any operas other than those 
of the famous Savoyards. Unhappily, such doubts 
and fears proved to have been only too well founded 
The most notable event connected with Workman's 
period of management was the production of Sir 
William Gilbert's last opera, called "Fallen Fairies." 
Pitiful it is to record the fact that, although Gilbert's 
libretto was rich in his own quaint humour and poetic 
fancy, and Edward German's music as charming as it 
always was and ever must be, the " Fallen Fairies " 
failed to enchant play-goers, and thus brought Work- 
man's reign to an untimely end 

After reflecting on misfortune, it is always good to 
try to scare away the ghost of vain regrets with the 


of a humorous story ; and " Workie," as his 
familiars call him, possesses a goodly stock of funny 
tales quite apart from those of " Fallen Fairies." Here 
is one I am permitted to repeat. It was during a 
rehearsal of "The Yeomen/' the situation occurring 
when poor Jack Point, in a gay and frivolous mood 
for the moment, is found with his arms around the 
necks of Elsie and Phoebe and striving to kiss each 
girl in turn. Gilbert suggested that the comedian 
was rather overdoing the caressing business; where- 
upon Workman respectfully remarked : " Ah ! yes, I 
see, Sir William. You would not kiss them more than 
once ? " " Oh I indeed I would/' was Gilbert's 
prompt retort, "but perhaps, from the public point 
of view, one kiss might be enough for you to give." 

On May 29th, 1911, all London was shocked by 
the appearance of news-placards announcing the 
" Sudden death of Sir William Gilbert." Within an 
hour the tragic tidings had spread to the most dis- 
tant British Colonies. Sir William, it was said, on 
reaching his home in Harrow Weald, fagged out by 
an arduous day in town, sought in his wonted way to 
refresh his limbs with an open-air bath in the lake 
within the grounds of Grim's Dyke. Whilst swimming 
he was stricken with heart-failure. Promptly rescued 
from the water, he was carried to his room, but life 
was extinct. The last of the renowned Triumvirate 
had passed away, following his old colleague to the 
Land beyond Life's border. 



It may not be very generally known how Sir William 
Gilbert became a hero at the early age of four. For 
the story of the tiny boy's exciting adventure the 
present writer is indebted to Miss Edith A. Browne's 
clever character-study of Gilbert. 

During a visit to Naples with his parents the child, 
whilst out for a morning's ramble with his nurse, was 
captured by brigands, who restored him in exchange 
for a " pony/ 9 One may readily surmise that, had 
our Savoy author fallen into the hands of banditti 
some forty or fifty years later, the price of his ransom 
would have been increased to a very large number of 
" monkeys." 

I have never heard it suggested that it was upon the 
Naples romance that Gilbert based his story of " The 
Pirates of Penzance,' 1 but it is not unlikely that, whilst 
engaged in framing the character of Ruth, the piratical 
maid of all work, the author's thoughts reverted to his 
old nurse, who was so weak and simple-minded as to 
believe the plausible tale of the two nice Neapolitan 
gentlemen who told her that they had been requested 
by the boy's father to fetch him. 

Almost as soon as Gilbert had learnt to write he 
began scribbling rhymes, but from his parents he r* 


DOOR ^^^ 



PAolo 6y Sow Slrttt Slmfr 
" Perhaps bis braii 


ceived no encouragement. His father, at one time a 
" middie" in the Indian Navy, was himself the author 
of one or two works that failed to attract the public. 
Probably on that account he had no faith in his son's 
literary ability. At the same time it was his intention 
to send the youth to Oxford, but the outbreak of the 
Crimean War upset such plans, and led to Mr. W. S. 
Gilbert being appointed to a clerkship in the Privy 
Council Office. Gilbert did not take kindly to his 
clerical work, and afterwards declared that his appoint- 
ment was the worst bargain the Civil Service Com- 
missioners ever made. On the strength of a legacy he 
was enabled to enter the Bar, but his restless spirit 
would not be curbed sufficiently to allow him to shine 
in the dull grey firmament of the law. And so, finding 
himself all but a briefless barrister — such an one as he 
describes in "Trial by Jury" — he soon threw off his wig 
and gown, and, instead of marrying " a rich attorney's 
elderly ugly daughter/ 1 he took to journalism, and 
wrote the " Bab Ballads," which later inspired him to 
write opera libretti. Such is the brief epitome of Sir 
William Gilbert's life, before the day when he met 
Arthur Sullivan. 

My first personal introduction to Gilbert dates back 
to the year 1874. It took place whilst travelling home- 
wards one night on the Underground Railway from 
Charing Cross to Kensington. I had been spending the 
evening at the old Prince of Wales's Theatre, enjoying 
once again the exquisite performance of Marie Wilton 
and Mr. S. B. Bancroft (as they were then named on 
the playbills) in Gilbert's charming dramatic sketch 


"Sweethearts," Naturally we talked "shop" and 
more particularly about " Sweethearts." 

Although I cannot boast the close intimacy with 
Gilbert that it was my privilege to enjoy with Sir 
Arthur Sullivan, at this moment, after spending so 
many pleasant days, as they seem to have been, in his 
companionship whilst engaged on this little history, I 
cannot bring my personal reminiscences to a dose 
without alluding to the genial manner in which he 
always greeted me, and the kind words of encourage- 
ment he tendered after witnessing some of my small 
dramatic essays. " Praise from Sir Hubert Stanley is 
praise indeed," and a complimentary word from Sir 
William Gilbert was to be proudly welcomed and fondly 
cherished by the humblest of neophytes. 

A notable instance of Gilbert's kindness is related 
by the well-known actor-manager, Mr. Edward Comp- 
ton, who confesses his indebtedness to Sir William for 
his first London appearance in particularly auspicious 
circumstances. The occasion was the benefit per- 
formance given at Drury Lane Theatre in March 1877 
in aid of a Testimonial Fund to the veteran comedian, 
Mr. Compton. The part of Evelyn in " Money " was 
to have been played by Henry Irving, but that dis- 
tinguished actor being unable to appear, at Gilbert's 
suggestion the committee entrusted the important 
rdle to the beneficiaire's son, young Edward Compton, 
who had but recently joined the profession. In the 
cast were such notabilities as Marie Wilton, Madge 
Robertson, Ellen Terry, Hare, Kendal, Bancroft, 
Benjamin Webster, William Farren and David James. 

.* . 



^V G rims Dy ke ^ 

«**\v>^ J-Jarrow \Yeald 

( o h^r . \yn 

k_ Cjlu, 




Such a send-off seldom falls to the lot of a budding 
actor. It was accordingly a feather in his cap when 
Edward Compton scored a great success, and he has 
not forgotten to be grateful to Sir William Gilbert for 
the opportunity thus afforded him of displaying the 
talents inherited from his father. 

It would require a book as bulky as this present 
volume to contain the numberless humorous anecdotes 
told of the Savoy author. Many of his bons mots, 
apart from those which have appeared in print, have 
become " as familiar as household words/ 9 but what 
the world at large knows least about concerning Sir 
William Gilbert is that beneath his autocratic, self- 
willed, Caesarean attitude which sometimes gave offence, 
there beat a kindly, sympathetic heart, ever responsive 
to the cry of distress or an appeal from those in need. 
If all his generous acts might be recorded yet another 
volume would be needed to hold them ; but this Sir 
William would have set his face against, for he " liked 
to do kind deeds by stealth," and felt very angry if 
they were ever found out. 

All Savoyards were much gratified to learn the tidings 
of Gilbert's knighthood, which honour was conferred 
upon him by King Edward VII on July 15, 1907. 

Sir William Gilbert's funeral was unaccompanied by 
pomp and circumstance. By his own request his 
body was cremated, and the casket containing his ashes 
was borne to the grave in the picturesque churchyard 
at Stanmore by his friends Mr. Rowland Brown and 
Mr. Herbert Sullivan, nephew to Sir Arthur, amidst a 
vast assembly of notabilities in the world of art. 



.ue Savoy 

„ntion to seek 

achly earned. To 

.^possibility. To stop 

-cop living. The greatest 

■<e at her desk trying to solve 

as which came before her from 

j, notwithstanding f ailin g health, 

. spirit of indomitable energy that 

' her, Mrs. Carte continued to give un- 

,ion to the minutest details of business 

vith her Touring Company and other mat- 

jich she was personally concerned. Nothing 

♦ j3 unt her courage. To the advice and appeals of 
I nearest and dearest to her, who watched with 
jjety the gradual decline of her physical strength, 
j* would not listen : her hand found work to do, and 
^e must do it with all the might she yet retained 
jyrs. Carte's mind was too large, too strong for the 
frail body that possessed it. Thus, month after month, 
year succeeding year, the brave woman struggled 
patiently against the evil that was draining the life- 
blood from her veins. Rallying from illness again and 

{■• ■%> 4 ., °<. 

Photo by Ellis 6 H 



On retiring from the active management of the Savoy 
in 1909, it was far from Mrs. Carte's intention to seek 
the rest and ease which she had so richly earned. To 
her nature idleness was an impossibility. To stop 
working would have been to stop living. The greatest 
pleasure of her life was to be at her desk trying to solve 
the innumerable problems which came before her from 
hour to hour. And so, notwithstanding failing health, 
maintained by the spirit of indomitable energy that 
had never failed her, Mrs. Carte continued to give uht 
relaxed attention to the minutest details of business 
connected with her Touring Company and other mat- 
ters in which she was personally concerned. Nothing 
could daunt her courage. To the advice and appeals of 
those nearest and dearest to her, who watched with 
anxiety the gradual decline of her physical strength, 
she would not listen : her hand found work to do, and 
she must do it with all the might she yet retained 
Mrs. Carte's mind was too large, too strong for the 
frail body that possessed it. Thus, month after month, 
year succeeding year, the brave woman struggled 
patiently against the evil that was draining the life- 
blood from her veins. Rallying from illness again and 



Fhoia 4y Ellis & Wat 



On retiring from the active management of the Savoy 
in 1909, it was far from Mrs. Carte's intention to seek 
the rest and ease which she had so richly earned. To 
her nature idleness was an impossibility. To stop 
working would have been to stop living. The greatest 
pleasure of her life was to be at her desk trying to solve 
the innumerable problems which came before her from 
hour to hour. And so, notwithstanding failing health, 
maintained by the spirit of indomitable energy that 
had never failed her, Mrs. Carte continued to give un- 
relaxed attention to the minutest details of business 
connected with her Touring Company and other mat- 
ters in which she was personally concerned. Nothing 
could daunt her courage. To the advice and appeals of 
those nearest and dearest to her, who watched with 
anxiety the gradual decline of her physical strength, 
she would not listen : her hand found work to do, and 
she must do it with all the might she yet retained 
Mrs. Carte's mind was too large, too strong for the 
frail body that possessed it. Thus, month after month, 
year succeeding year, the brave woman struggled 
patiently against the evil that was draining the life- 
blood from her veins. Rallying from illness again and 




On retiring from the active management of the Savoy 
in 1909, it was far from Mrs. Carte's intention to seek 
the rest and ease which she had so richly earned. To 
her nature idleness was an impossibility. To stop 
working would have been to stop living. The greatest 
pleasure of her life was to be at her desk trying to solve 
the innumerable problems which came before her from 
hour to hour. And so, notwithstanding failing health, 
maintained by the spirit of indomitable energy that 
had never failed her, Mrs. Carte continued to give uht 
relaxed attention to the minutest details of business 
connected with her Touring Company and other mat- 
ters in which she was personally concerned. Nothing 
could daunt her courage. To the advice and appeals of 
those nearest and dearest to her, who watched with 
anxiety the gradual decline of her physical strength, 
she would not listen : her hand found work to do, and 
she must do it with all the might she yet retained. 
Mrs. Carte's mind was too large, too strong for the 
frail body that possessed it. Thus, month after month, 
year succeeding year, the brave woman struggled 
patiently against the evil that was draining the life- 
blood from her veins, Rallying from illness again and 


Photo by Ellis & 11 



On retiring from the active management of the Savoy 
in 1909, it was far from Mrs. Carte's intention to seek 
the rest and ease which she had so richly earned. To 
her nature idleness was an impossibility. To stop 
working would have been to stop living. The greatest 
pleasure of her life was to be at her desk trying to solve 
the innumerable problems which came before her from 
hour to hour. And so, notwithstanding failing health, 
maintained by the spirit of indomitable energy that 
had never failed her, Mrs. Carte continued to give un- 
relaxed attention to the minutest details of business 
connected with her Touring Company and other mat- 
ters in which she was personally concerned. Nothing 
could daunt her courage. To the advice and appeals of 
those nearest and dearest to her, who watched with 
anxiety the gradual decline of her physical strength, 
she would not listen : her hand found work to do, and 
she must do it with all the might she yet retained. 
Mrs. Carte's mind was too large, too strong for the 
frail body that possessed it. Thus, month after month, 
year succeeding year, the brave woman struggled 
patiently against the evil that was draining the life- 
blood from her veins. Rallying from illness again and 



I'Mo by Ellis & ll'al, 


again, she would creep back to her desk to deal with 
some business minutes which having, necessarily ? 
been neglected during an interval of pain, had been 
worrying her sensitive mind. Of death she had no fear; 
her one desire seemed to be to leave nothing undone 
which she might yet do. If it might be she would die 
in harness. But the unequal fight was soon to end. 
After lingering for a long while on the borderland 
between life and death, Mrs. Carte, or more correctly at 
this point to call her by the name which became hers 
by a second marriage in 1902, Mrs. Stanley Carr 
Boulter, passed away on Monday, May 5th, 1913. 

In the introductory chapter of this book Mrs. D'Oyly 
Carte was rightly described as the Dea ex machina of 
the Savoy, and more than once in the course of our 
Reminiscences passing allusion has been made to the 
silent part played in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas 
by one of the most gifted of women. But only 
those who enjoyed the personal acquaintance of Mrs. 
Carte can estimate her true worth. To her mar- 
vellous talent of organization was mainly due the 
success that attended not only the Savoy Theatre 
but several other ventures, notably the Savoy Hotel, 
in the building and establishment of which she was 
largely concerned. In the direction of all matters 
Mrs. Carte's initiatory judgment always held preced- 
ence, her advice and suggestions were invariably 
adopted. Seldom, if indeed ever, was a woman found 
to possess such a thorough knowledge of the principles 
of sound finance, with absolute mastery of details 
with respect to the intricate figures of a financi 


statement or the most subtle and involved clauses of a 
legal document. 

But Mrs. Carte was not only a woman of business : 
she possessed artistic taste of the highest order, and 
was a good judge of the capabilities of those who sought 
professional engagements at the Savoy. Her bene- 
volence was widely known, but its extent can never be 
told. Her liberality was, at all times, governed by 
good judgment, but from " the low prayer and plaint of 
want " she never turned away her ear. 

King Edward VII bestowed upon Mrs. D*Oyiy 
Carte the Order of Mercy ; but, greatly prizing as she 
did the royal honour, to her kind heart it must have 
been a greater pride to feel how she had won the 
esteem and love of a multitude of men and women who, 
professionally engaged at the Savoy, had experienced 
at her hands true acts of friendship, sympathy, and 
encouragement to brighten their days of toil and 

As a tribute to the memory of Mrs. EFOyly Carte, let 
me be permitted to quote the words of her old friend 
and colleague, Mr. George Edwardes, thus : " A more 
wonderful woman it was never my lot to know. It was 
my privilege to work with Miss Helen Lenoir under 
Mr. Carte for a considerable time, and I never ceased to 
marvel at her great energy and inexhaustible activity. 
The whole fabric of the Savoy truly rested upon her." 

Mrs. Carte was greatly distressed as one after another 
of many faithful servants and coadjutors of long years' 
standing was taken from her side by death. Of those 
who survived her at the Savoy, the chief were FranfQfc 


Cellier and George A. Richardson. The first has since 
passed away, the other still continues in his secretarial 
post at the Savoy, where also a few humbler servants 
of many years remain to speak in grateful words their 
praise of the good mistress whose loss they so deeply 

I have recently chanced to read an article which 
appeared in the Sketch shortly after the death of Mrs. 
D' Oyly Carte ; thinking that it may be of special 
interest to American lovers of the Gilbert and Sullivan 
operas, and that they may be pleased to be reminded 
of the woman to whom they were in no small measure 
indebted for the organization of the performances in 
the United States, I venture to borrow the following 
paragraph from its pages : 

" Miss Helen Lenoir (now Mrs. D'Oyly Carte) was 
the indefatigable head of the Carte Bureau in Broad- 
way, hard by the Standard Theatre, where most of the 
Gilbert-Sullivan operas were produced, Charlie Harris 
being the clever stage-manager. When it is stated that 
Mr. Carte not only sent out the entire company from 
England, as well as all the dresses, the scenery alone 
being painted from models in New York, it may readily 
be imagined what immense labour was placed upon Miss 
Lenoir. Of course she was in constant cable com- 
munication with London, for singers are ' kittle cattle/ 
and often by sheer tact she saved the situation when 
things looked hopeless. It cannot be said that the 
Carte invasion was looked upon with favour by the 
native managers, but they were quite cute enough to 


perceive that the public appreciated the carefully 
produced works from England better than their own 
slipshod affairs. And then they began to amend their 
ways, and have now turned the tables on us. They 
owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. D*Oyly 
Carte for showing them the right path in which to tread 
And they have trod it with great and increasing profit " 
• . • . • 

But now, in conclusion, let me confess that this, the 
final chapter of our book of reminiscences, has been the 
most difficult one of all to write. I have wanted to say 
so much, and, for lack of space, have been compelled 
to say so little, and that all so unworthily of my greatly 
esteemed friend Mrs. Carte. At the same time, as 1 
have recently been reminded by Mr. Stanley Boulter 
when I ventured to suggest how greatly his gifted 
wife's biography would be prized by the public, Mis 
Carte — as we must still, for custom's sake, call her- 
was of such an extremely modest and unostentatious 
disposition that she was always averse to being 
publicly spoken of or written about. Yet, it may 
be asked, what volume touching the Savoy could be 
considered complete that did not contain some personal 
reference to one who was the "be all " and " end all" 
of the institution ? 

I would add that the same sense of self-dissatisfaction 
as that expressed regarding this chapter vexes my mind 
with regard to the present volume from beginning 
to end. I am conscious of having left unsaid many 
things that might, with advantage, have been said 
on a subject so inexhaustible as the Savoy and the 


Savoyards. Better, perhaps, to have erred thus, 
than to have written anything that might, with better 
judgment and wisdom, have remained unwritten. I 
have no vain excuse to offer for my shortcomings, but 
in mitigation of sentence may I not plead for the 
indulgent sympathy of my readers in the loss I was 
called upon to sustain by the untimely death of my 
old friend and collaborator, Francois Cellier ? 




A few weeks ago, in the " Princess Ida " room of the 
Savoy Hotel, it became my happy fortune to join a 
reunion of a few survivors of the Old Brigade of the 
D'Oyly Carte Army Corps. With three of the number 
I made acquaintance at the Opera Comique in 1878 
when "H.M.S. Pinafore" was launched. These were 
Miss Jessie Bond, the original Hebe, Miss Julia Gwynnt, 
one of the brightest of the bevy of sisters, cousins, and 
aunts, and Mr. (now Sir George) Power who created 
the part of Ralph Rackstraw. The fourth of the party 
of Victorian Savoyards was Miss Leonora Braham, 
who joined the company in 1881, to win fame in the 
title-role of " Patience." 

Over luncheon we cheerily chatted of those days of 
long ago when we were all young people, and now I, a 
veteran camp-follower, could not but observe that the 
four merry-hearted survivors had, one and all, borne 
the burthen of years as wondrously as had those Gilbert 
and Sullivan operas at whose christening they bad 
stood sponsors just a third of a century ago. During 
our repast it was suggested that, as a final illustration 
of this present book, nothing might be more appro- 
priate than a picture of the survivors at the base of 



the statue to Sir Arthur Sullivan, upon which we gazed 
down from the windows of the hotel. Accordingly, a 
photographer having been requisitioned, the party 
adjourned to the Victoria Embankment and were 
straightway snapshotted. Here, by the way, to avoid 
any possible misconception, it may be advisable to 
point out that the central figure of the group — that 
immediately beneath the bust of Sullivan— does not 
represent one of the survivors ; it is, in fact, the 
symbolic form of " Grief " modelled in bronze ; and 
so, fair lady-readers, pray spare your blushes. 

A courteous, full-bodied sergeant of police who kept 
the space clear for the artist, was greatly interested 
in the operations. " Lor, bless you, sir," said he, 
"don't I remember all those plays^— partic'lar that 
one where some of my profession had to tackle those 
Pirates of Penzance, I think they called themselves ? 
— and they were real life-like constables, they were, 
sir. Opera Comic ? — No, sir, I hadn't joined the force 
in those days ; 'twas later on, at the Savoy Theatre 
over there, sir, that I saw them, when Mr. Passmore 
took my part — meaning the Sergeant's, sir — and I 
couldn't a' done it better myself, and, believe me, sir, 
the truest words I ever heard spoke on the stage was, 
' A p'liceman's lot is not a 'appy one.' I sometimes 
sing that song to my missus when she ain't feeling very 
well. Thank you, sir, I hope the picture' 11 come out 
all right. Good afternoon, ladies 1 Good day, sir ! " 

It was much to be regretted that neither Barrington 
nor Passmore was present to acknowledge the ser- 
geant's compliments. 





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Punka Mr. Rutland 

India •• Courttcr Pounds 

Pygama » Fnanh Thornton 

BahooCurree » F, Wtatt 

^mhft , W. H. DRNHY 

Chinna Louis Miss Jkssib Bohd 



HoUm Beebea „ L. Shydbr 

Bonyan ........ LouisnRowr 

Kake ». AnnibColr 

Tippers CoraTinhi* 


Rev. William Barlow 
Rev. Henry Sandford 
Thomas Merton, Esq. 
Mr. Bedford Rowe 
John Dory 

Samuel Spicer 

First Huntsman 

Second Huntsman 

Bars. Merton 

Nelly Bly 




Rose . 



Jam- rf. i«g «. m 




W. H. Dwnnr 
W. S. Latdla* 


F. Barkbtt 
J. Wilbraham 
Rudolph Lewis 
Miss Rostna Brandrah 
Louisb Rows 
Janbt Watts 
Nbllib Kavanagn 
















Sept. a*, raja. 

John Manners Mr. Courtk* Founds 

Sir George Vernon Richard Grrsn 

Oswald » Chas. Kbhrtngbah 

Ropert Vernon Rutland Barw*«** 


The McCrankie Mr. W.H.Denny 

Sing Song Simeon „ Rudolph Lewis 

Dorothy Vernon Miss Lucille Hill 

Lady Vernon „ Rosin* Brandram 

Dorcas „ Dorothy Vane 

Nance „ NitaColb 

Gettrade „ ClaribelHyde 

Deborah Florence Easton 


May is, i«9S- 

A Proctor Me. Rutland Barrington 

Sims „ Lawrence Grindley 

Greg „ Walter Passmorr 

Tom „ Charles Kbnningham 

Jack „ Scorr Fischb 

Miss Sims Miss Rostna Brandram: 

Jane Annie „ Dorothy Vans 

Bab M Decima Moore 

Milly „ Florence Perry 

Rose „ Emmie Owen 

Meg „ Jose Shaldsrs 

Mand », May Bsxx 


Oct 7, i*93* 

King Paramount Mr. Rutland Barrinoton 

Scaphio „ W.H.Denny 

Phantis „ John Lb Hay 

Tarara „ Walter Passmore 

Calynx „ Bowdbn Haswell 

Lord Dramaleigh , Scott Russell 

Capt. Fitsbattleaxe „ Charles Kenninoham 

Capt. Sir Edward Corcoran „ Lawrence Grindley 

Mr. Goldbnry „ Scott Fische 

Mr. Broahington „ Herbert Ralland 

Princess Zara Miss Nancy McIntosh 

Princess Nekaya Emmie Owen 

Princess Karyba „ Florence Perry 

The Lady Sophy „ Rosina Brandram 

Salata „ Edith Johnston 

Mfllftnf> •••••••„ May PwLir 

PhyUa „ Florencs Easton 



The Baron van den Berg .... Mr. Richari 

Gerard de Montigny „ Scott Fischb 

Picorin Courticb Pounds 

Bobinet M Walter Passmore 

Francal John Coates 

Bertuccio „ Scott Russell 

Mirette Bliss Florence St. John 


Zerbinett* Emmie Owen 

The Marquise de Montigny ....,, Rosika Brandram 


Dec zs, 1S94- 

Count Vasques de Goniago .... Mr. Courticb Pounds 

Peter Adolphus Grigg „ Walter Passmorb 

Ferdinand de Roxas „ Scott Fischb 

Sancho , Richard Temple 

Jose „ M. R. Morand 

{ Pedro Gomes , Scott Russell 

i Blazzo , Bowdbn Haswbll 

Eacatero ,, Powis Pimdbr 

Pedrillo Master Snelsom 

Inex de Roxas Miss Rosina Brandram 

Dolly , Florence Perry 

Juanita Emmie Owen 

Maraquita > „ Edith Johnston 

Anna „ Ada New all 

Zitella », Beatrice Perry 

Nina , Ethel Wilson 

Rita Florence St. John 


Hat. 7. tie* 
Rudolph Mr. Walter Passmorb 

Ernest Dummkopf „ C. Kbnnwcham 

Ladwig „ Rutland BarrinW 

Dr. Tannhanser f Scott Russell 

The Prince of Monte Carlo „ Scott Fischb 

Viscount Mentone . Carlton 


Ben Hashbas Mr. Workman 

Herald „ Jones Hbwson 

The Princess of Monte Carlo . Miss Emmie Owen 

The Baroness von Krakenfeldt „ Rosina Brandram 

Julia Jellicoe Madmb. Ilka von Palmay 

Lisa Miss Florence Perry 

Olga ,, Mildred Baker 

Gretchen Ruth Vincent 

Jessie Rose 

Ethel Wilson 

Martha Bratricr Perry 


Feb. so, 1897, 

Ferdinand the Fifth Mr. Geo. Grossmith 

Count Cosmo „ Scott Russell 

Baron Vincentius „ Jones Hbwson 

Baron Michael „ Earldon 

Prince Max „ C. Kenninoham 

Mopolio „ Fred Bilungton 

Boodel „ W. Passmors 

Herr Schinppenhammer „ Bryan 

Chevalier Klarkstein „ H. Charles 

Adam , C. H # Workman 

Princess Chloris Miss Ilka von Palmay 

Duchess Gonsara „ McCaulsy 

Dame Gertrude , Bessie Bousill 

Helena , Jessie Rose 

Dorothea „ Ruth Vincent 

Clattdina „ Mildred Baker 




Isa . 

Olga . 

Prince Paul 
Baron Puck 
Nepornus • 
General Boom 


S, x*97. 

Miss Florence St. John 
Florence Perry 
„ Ruth Vincent 
Jessie Ross 
Beatrice Perry 
Mr. C. Kbnningham 
H. A. Lytton 
W. Elton 
„ Geo. Humphrey 
Walter Passmors 






Baron Grog 
Carl . 

Colonel Marcobrun 
Captain Hocheim 

Mr. C. H. Brooktold 
„ C. H. Workman 
Scott Fischb 
Cory Jambs 




May a*, X89S. 

Philip, Lord of Mirlemont .... Mr. George Dbvoll 

Guntran of Beaugrant „ Edwin Isham 

Simon Lima! „ Henry A. Lytton 

Nicholas Dirckt „ J ones Hbwson 

Peppin „ D'Arcy Kblway 

A Seneschal ...... „ Leonard Russell 

A Lad of Town Childbrstosi 

Baldwyn or Ath „ J. W. Foster 

Lords of Seranlt, Velaines, and St. Sanveur . „ Cory Jajces,Mr.H. Gor- 
don, and Mr. J. Rw* 

The Devil Walter Passmobs 

Laine Miss Ruth Vincent 

Joan „ Rosina Brandram 

Jacqueline Emmie Owen 

Loyse, from St. Denis „ Madge Moysb 

Isabeau, from Florennes • ,, Minnie Prycx 

Barbe, from Bovigny , Ethel Jackson 

A Shrewish Girl „ Mildred Bakbr 

A Matron „ Ethel Wilson 

Saida „ Pauline Joran 


Jtm. 7, 1899. 

King Ouf the First Mr. Walter Passmorb 

The Baron Tabasco ...» Hbnry A. Lytton 

Siroco „ Frbd Wright, Jun. 

Kedas „ Frank Manning 

Tapioca „ Robert Evbtt 

Cancan „ Leonard Russell 

Princess Laonia Miss Ruth Vincent 

Aloes ,, Isabel Jay 

Oasis „ Jessie Rosb 

Asphodel ,, Madge Moysb 

Zinnia ......... Mildred Bakbr 

Adza „ Katie Vbsbt 

Lazuli „ Emmie Owen 




The Sultan Mahmoud of Persia 

Abdallah . 
The Grand Vizier 
The Physitian-in-Chief 
The Royal Executioner 
Soldier of the Guard 
The Sultana Zubeydeh 
" Scent-of-Lalies " 
•• Heart's Desire " 
•• Honey-of-Life " 
" Dancing Sunbeam 

Blush-of-Morning " 

Oasis-in-the-Desert " 
" Moon-upon-the-Waten " 
44 Song-of-Nightingales " 
M Whisper-of-the-West-Wind " 



Nor. 49, 1899! 

Mr. Henry A. Lytton 
Walter Passmorb 
robbrt evbtt 
George Rxdobwbll 
W. H. Lbon 
C. Crildbrstonb 
Rboinald Crompton 


Miss Isabbl Jay 
Jbssib RO8B 
Louib Pounds 
Emmie Owen 
rosina brandram 
Agnbs Frasbr 
Madgb Moysb 
Jbssib Pounds 
Rose Rosslyn 
Gbrtrudb Jbrrard 











The Earl of Newtown 
Dr. Fiddle, D.D. 
Terence O'Brien 
Professor Bonn 
Pat Murphy 
Black Dan . 
Mickie O'Hara 
Sergeant Pincher 
Private Perry 
Countess of Newtown 
Lady Rosie Pippin 
Molly O'Grady . 
Nora • 




April 17, 1901. 
Mr. Jonbs Hbwson 
„ R. Rous 

Robbrt Evbtt 
Walter Passmorb 
H. A. Lytton 
W. H. Lbon 
C. Earldon 
R. Crompton 


Miss Rosina Brandram 
Isabel Jay 
Louie Pounds 
Blanche Gaston Murray 
Lulu Evans 
Agnes Frasbr 







Adeson, Charles. 182 
Adeson, Stephen, 183 
Africa, Savoy opens ia» 386 
Albani, Madame, 214 
Albery, James, 43 
Alias, M., 277 
Allen, G. B., 40 
Amateurs, 7, 593 
American audiences, 386 
American bandsmen, 76 
American piracy, $8 
Anderson, Percy, 256, 277, 321, 
AngeH & Sons, 321 
Auguste, Madame, 331, 3 $4 

" Bab Ballads/' 11.44 
Baker. Miss Mildred, 348 
Bancroft, Lady, 367 
Bancroft, Sir Squire, 1 1, 80, 368 
Barker, Richard, 51, $6, 58, 61 

178. 191. 354. 373* 404 
Barlow, Miss Bfflie, 76 

Barnby, J., 12 

Barnby, Lady, 368 

Barnett, Miss Alice, 76, 86, 113 

Barrie, Sir J. M., 302 

Barrington, Rutland, 37, 49, 79, 

141. *53. »74. 379. ^93. 3** 
Bateson, General, 367 
" Beauty Stone, The," 348 

Bell, Miss May, 321 
Bell, Miss Minnie, 305 
Bellamy, H. £., 382 
Bendati, Ernest, 214 
Bendall, Wilfred, 352, 353, 368 
Bennett, Joseph, 214 
Bentham, 39 
Bernard, lust, 277 


. 63, 


BUttngton, Fred, 73, 74. 3*3. 3*7 

Blackmore, Ernest, 321 

Bond, Miss Jessie, 49, 76, 181, 209, 

240, 265, 269. 293. 294, 362, 397.420 
Bond, Miss Norm, 82 
Boulter, Stanley C, 415* 4>8 
Bowley, G., 8$ 
Boyd, 256 
Bracey, H., 12$, 126 
Braham, Miss Leonora, 85, 86, 12$, 

162, 181, 362, 420 
Brandram, Miss Rosina, 76, 162, 181, 

192, 250, 321, 348, t53, 362, 401 
Brema, Madame Marie, 174 
Bridge, Sir Frederick, 368 
Broccolini, 75 
Bromley, Miss Nellie, 22 
Brook, Herbert, 73 
Brown, Rowland, 413 
Brown, Walter, 104 
Brownlow, Wallace, 276 
Buckstone, J. C, 10 
Bun, W. Sims-, 396 
Burnand, Sir F. C, 32, 84, 314. 337 . 

Buxton-Btowne, Dr., 368 
Byng, Rev. The Hon. Francis, 138 

CadwaDader, 73 
Cambridge audiences, 392 
Cambridge, Duke of, 367 
Carr, Comyns, Dr., 342, 346 
Can, Miss Lillian, 125 
Carte, R. D'Oyly : 
His early career, 14 
Musical agency, 1 5 
At Royalty Theatre, 16 
Opens Opera Comique, 33 
Managerial discipline, 52 
Projects new theatre, 83 




success to 

Carte, R. D'Oyly {ami.) : 

Building Savoy Theatre, 93 

Address to public, 9$ 

Opens Savoy Theatre, 100 

Cables "Iolanthe" 
America, 114 

Establishes the queue, 129 

Demeanour at first nights, 13a 

Opinion of tenors, 240 

Quarrel with Gilbert, 287 

Dissolution of partnership, 289 

Difficult position, 293 

Reunion of Triumvirate, 307 

His final " oall." 364 

His last illness, 373 

His death, 374 

Memorial window. Savoy Chapel 
Royal, 380 
Carte, Mrs. D'Oyly : 

Dea ex machina, 7 

First-night refreshment, 129 

At Sullivan's funeral, 368 

In sole management, 400 

" The Fairy Cleaner." 405 

Resumes management, 406 

A pleasant surprise, 407 

Tribute to, 414 

Illness and death, 415 

The " Order of Mercy," 416 
Carte, Rupert D'Oyly, 378, 382 
Carte, Lucas D'Oyly. 379 
Carte Touring Co., 381 
Carton, Mrs. R., 2% 
Carvll, Ivan, 351 
Cecil, Arthur, 43 
Cellier, Alfred : 

" Dora's Dream," 43 

Resigns Musical Directorship, 55 

The" Mountebanks," 172, 289 

Illness and death, 295 

Cellier, Francois: 
Notes on a Triangle, 1 
Friendship with chiefs, 6 
Appointed Musical Director, 55 
Arranges music for children's 

" Pinafore," 61 
Tribute to Savoy orchestra, 105 
First professional association with 

Sullivan, 138 
Organist at St. Peter's, Cranley 

Gardens, 138 
Organist at Surbiton, 139 
Paper war with Barrington, 1 59 

Cellier, Francois (eoni.) : 

His death, 165 

Memoirs, 169 

Music of children's " Pirates," 17* 

A joke at rehearsal, 268 

At Sullivan's funeral, 368 

At St. Paul's, 369 

In Africa, 388 
Cellier, Francois, jun.. 176 
Cellier, Miss Margaret, 177 
Chambers, Haddon, 368 
Chappell & Co., 285 
Chappell, Arthur, 368 
Charles, 212 
" Chieftain, The," 332 
Childerstone, C, 348, 353 
Christian, Prince, 367 
Churchill, Lord Randolph, 213. >i* 
Clarkson. W., 256, 321 
Clay, Frederic, 32, 104, 375 
Clifton, Fred., 40, 76 
Coke, Lady Catherine, 367 
Cole, Miss Nita, 2/7, 297 
Collins, Colonel A., 36S 
Comedy Opera Co., 32 
Compton Benefit, 25 
Compton, Edward, 25,41 s 
Compton, Edward, Jan., 41* 
Cook, Furaeaux, 75 
CoreUi, Miss Marie, 350 
Cox, 212 

Craven, Hawes, 123, 194, 113, *$ 
Crimp, Herbert, 305 
Crofton, Lord, 367 
Crompton, R.. 353, 401, 40* 
Cross, Miss Emily, 81 
Cununings, R., 249 


Dance, 293 

D'Auban, John, 86, 113, 191. 256,3" 

Denny, W. H., 255, 265. 276, 293. 

297, 299 
De Pledge, 277, 297 
Desprez, Frank, 172-293 
Devoll, G., 348 
Dicey, Edward, 368 
Dickens, Charles, 13 
Dickens, Sydney Smith, 251 
Dolaro, Miss Senna, 22 
Doree, Miss Ada, 157 
Doyle, Conan, 302 
Dreseden, 368 



^s Duckworth, Canon, 368 

Dnnraven, Lord, 313 
i Dyuiott, 48 

=r Dysart, Miss Florence, 157 

Earldon, C.,401 

Easton, Miss Florence, 297, 321 

Ede & Son, 321 

Edwardes, George, 80, 131, 214, 416 

Eliot, Hon. Charles, 367 

Emden, Walter, 1 1 1 

" Emerald Isle, The," 373, 400 

— in Dublin, 40$ 

Engel, Dr. Louis, 206-214 

Esmond, George, 182 

Evans, Miss Lulu, 401 

Everard, Miss, 40, 49 

Eversfield, Harry, 64 

Evett, Robert, 351, 353, 356, 401 

Farren, Miss Nellie, 17, 27 

Federici, 73, 75 

Findlay, Miss Josephine, 212 

Findon, B. W., 13, 33, 365, 368 

Firmin & Sons, 321 

Fische, Scott, 305, 321 

Fisher, Miss, 256, 354 

Fisher, Walter, 24 

First nights, 19, 128 

Fortescue, Miss, 8s, 11$ 

Foster, J. W., 348 

Fowls*, A., 297 

Fraser, Miss Agnes, 353, 401 

Gaston Murray, Miss B„ 401 
German, Edward, 169, 373, 403 
Germany, Savoy operas in, 386 
Gilbert, Sir William : 
Early burlesque and fairy come- 
dies, 9 
" The Princess," 10 
Sweethearts," 10 
Pygmalion and Galatea," 10 
Bab Ballads," 11 
First piece with Sullivan, 16 
At Nellie Farren's Benefit, 28 
As a musician, 38 
" H.M.S. Pinafore," 44 
As draughtsman, 49 
Visits H.M.S. Victory, 49 




Gilbert, Sir William (coni.) : 
As stage manager, 50 — 
" Pirates of Penzance," 68 
In America, 78 
A New York story, 79 
"H.M.S. Pinafore" in Germany, 


" Patience," 89 

"Iolanthe," 108 

A practical joke, 113 

• ' Princess Ida." 119 

Demeanour at first nights, 133 

" The Mikado," 186 

An interview, 203 

" Ruddigore," 216 

Offends French critic, 218 

" Yeomen of the Guard," 257 

The two Jessies, 266 

" The Gondoliers," 270 

"The Gondoliers" at Windsor 
Castle, 286 

Quarrel with D'Oyly Carte, 287 

Speech at O. P. Club Dinner, 289 

Rejoins Sullivan and Carte, 307 

"Utopia," 311 

" The Grand-Duke," 334 

His final " call," 364 

German appreciation, 38$ 

His death, 409 

Obituary notice, 410 

Knighthood, 413 
Gilbert, Miss Louisa, 64 
Glenesk, Lord, 367 
Godfrey, Lieut Dan. 368 
" Gondoliers, The," 270 

First revival, 340 

Second revival, 350 
Gordon, H., 297, 348 
" Grand-Duke, The," 334 
" Grand-Duchess, The," 33 
Grattan, Emily, 64 
Grattan, Harry, 63, 64 
Gray, Warwick, 125 
Gray's " Elegy." 43 
Green, Richard, 296 
Greenbank, H., 172 
Greet, William, 165, 406 
Grey. Miss Sybil, x 1 5, 252 
Grindley, Lawrence, 304, 320 
Grossmith, George. 37, 49, 57. 79, 

112. 196.209.278,365.387 
Grossmith, Mrs. G., 214 
Grove, Sir George, 155 
Grundy, Sydney, 150, 292, 296 



Gunn. Michael, 56, $7. 377 
Gwynne, Bliss Julia, 51, 80, 214 



Haddoa HaH," 296 
Hadley, Howard J., 394 
Hanson, Sir Reginald, 214 
Harris, Sir Augustus, 176, 331 

is, Charles, 40. 305, 321, 330, 417 

is. Miss Glossop, 176 
Miss Fanny, 73 
HassweU, Bowden, 305, 320 
Havers, Bliss Alice, 102 
Heathcote, Bliss, 125 
Helmore, Rev. Thomas, 144 
Henschel, George, 322 
Hentschel, Carl, 219, 289 
Hervey, Bliss Rose, 256 
Hewson, Jones, 348, 401 
Hill, Bliss Lucille, 151. 297 
" His Majesty," 337 
Holl. Frank, 213 
HoUingshead, John, 9, 16, 80 
Holmes, Mrs., 368 

Hood, Capt. Basil, 169, 35*. 3S4. 402 
Hood, Bliss Marion, 79 
Horner, Ralph, 73 
Hopwood, Aubrey, 351 
Howson, Bliss Emma, 48 
Hueffer, Dr., 214 
Hyde. Bliss Claribel, 297 

Inderwick, 213 

" lolanthe," 107 

" lolanthe" in America, 113 

Irish play-goers, 385 

Isham, Edwin, 348 

" Ivanhoe," 258 

Ivimey, Joseph, 174 

Jackson, Bliss Ethel, 348 
antes, Cory, 348 
" Jane Annie." 302 

Japan in Knightsbridge, 186 
ay. Bliss Isabel, 351. 353. 362, 401 
jerrard, Miss Gertrude, 3 $4 
[oel, Bliss Elsie, 182 
[ohnston, Bliss Edith, 321 
[ones, Sidwell, 305 
[oran. Bliss Pauline, 348, 349 

Kavanagh, Ifias, 252 
Kehray, D'Arcy, 348 
Kendal, Mrs., 10 
Keuningham. C, 297. 304, 317 

Lacknor, Blr., 73 

La Rue, Bliss Lillian. 82 

Lawrence, Arthur, 13 

Lawrence, Bliss, 252, 277 

Le Hay, John, 73, 75, 3*> 

Lehmann, C. H., 337 

Leighton, Sir Frederick, 213 

Lely. Durward, 85, 86, 162, 240 

Leon, Madame, 256, 277, 321, 354 

Leon, W. H„ 353. 40 * 

Lewis, Blr. and Mrs. Arthur, 214 

Lewis, Sir George. 213, 368 

Lewis, Rudolph, 212, 249, 256 

Liberty & Co., 192 

Lindsay, Bliss, 212 

" Little Buttercup/' 45. 5* 

" Lucky Star. The," 351 

Lugg. 1 57. 

Lynar, Prince, 367 

Lyons. 256, 354 

Lytton, H. A., 338. 348, 351. 353. 3»- 

389. 401 


Macfarren, G. A., 339 
Mcintosh. Bliss Nancy. 322 
Macintyre, Bliss M., 368 
Mackenzie, Sir Alexander, ISS- 337* 

344. 3<5* 
Maclean, W. J., 2x3 
Blanners, Charles, 114 
Mansfield, Richard, 73 
Martin, Sir George, 368 
Mason, Bliss Ettie, 64 
Mathews, C. W., 368 
May, Bliss Alice, 40. 73 
Merton, 256 
Messager, Andre, 332 
Metcalf, 256, 277 
" Mikado " : 

Original production, 185 

First revival, 252 

Second revival. 333 

Third revival, 33$ 



Mfflais, Sir John, 313 

- Blirette," 33* 

Monmouth, Miss, 73 

Moore, Mist Detima, 277, 379, 30$ 

" Mountebanks," The, 43, 394 

Moyse, Miss Madge, 348, 353 



Nautch Girl, The," 293 
Keilson, Bliss Julia, 353 
Neville, Miss K., 73 
New Zealand amateurs, 398 

Offenbach, 339 

Onslow, Lord and Lady, 213 

O.P. Crab Dinner, 219 

Opera Comiqoe, 33, $6 

Orcherton, P., 161 

Orchestras, English and Foreign, 367 

Ouseley, Sir F. Gore, 154 

Owen, Miss Emmie, 305, 321, 350, 351 

Oxford audiences, 392 

Palliser, Miss Esther, 277 
Palmay, Madame Ilka von, 334 
Parisian Diamond Co., 321 
Parratt, Sir Walter, 367 
Parry, Sir Hubert, 367 
Passmore, Walter, 304, 320, 342, 349, 

351. 353. 36*. 401. 4«i 
" Patience " : 

Original production, 85 

First revival, 361 
Patti, Madame, 181 
Paul, Mrs. Howard, 39 
Penley, Arthur, 24 
Percy, Edward, 182 
" Perichole," 22 

Perry, Miss Florence, 305, 321, 334 
Petreffi, Miss, 73 
Pinups, William, 63 
Phyllis, Bliss, 277 
Pickering, Edward, 63, 182 
" Pinafore, H.M.S." : 

Original production, 4$, 48 

In America, 59 

First revival, 249 

Second revival, 350 

Children's performance, 64 

Pinder Powis, 353, 401 
Pinero, Sir Arthur, 214, 341 
" Pirates of Pensance : " 

Opera Comique production, 6$ 

In America, 59, 65, 73, 75 

In Paignton, $9, 65 

First revival, 252 

Second revival, 360 
Pounds, Courtice, 274, 277, 280, 293 
Pounds, Miss Jessie, 353 
Pounds, Miss Louie, 356, 401 
Power, Sir George, 48, 79, 81 
Price, 212 
Prince of Wales, H.R.H. (Edward 

VII.). 26, 27 
Pryce, Miss Minnie, 348 
Punch, 194 

Ralland, Herbert, 321 

Recreations of Savoyards, 241 

Redmond, 256 

Richards, 255 

Richardson, G. A., 417 

Ridgwell, Geo., 353 

Regnold, Harry, 305 

Robertson, J. G., 249 

Rockstro, W. S., 344 

Ronalds, Mrs., 214, 368 

Roosevelt, Miss Blanche, 76 

Rose. Miss Jessie, 266, 267, 334, 351, 

Rose, Mr., 277 

" Rose of Persia, The," 353 

Ross, Adrian, 351 

Rossryn, Miss Rose, 353 

Rowton, Lord, 367 

" Ruddigore," 209 

Ruff, T.. 348 

Russell and Allen, 321 

Russell, Sir Charles, 213 

Russell, Miss Ella, 368 

Russell, Leonard, 348 

Russell, Scott, 320 

Ryiey. J. H„ 75 

St. John, Miss Florence, 338 
Sambourne, Linley, 213 
Scott, Clement, 183, 214 
Sedger, Horace, 294 
Seymour, W. H., 256, 321 



Shalders, Miss Jose, 305 , 
Shaw, Captain, 1 10 
Shaw, G. Bernard, 1 19 
Sheppard, Rev. Canon Edgar, 166 
Shirley, W. R.. 255 * 
Shrewsbury Countess of, 367 
Simmons, B. J. & Co., 256, 377. 321, 

Slaughter, Walter, 352 
Snyder, Bliss Leonora, 293 
Solomon, Edward, 293 

Production, 34, 40 

First revival, 157 

Second revival, 351 
" Spectre Knight," 43 
Stainer, Sir John, 368 
Stone, Marcus, 213 
Strafford, Earl and Countess of, 367 
Sullivan, Sir Arthur : 

At Chapel Royal, 11 

His first song, 1 1 

Royal Academy of Music, 12 

Leipsic, 12 

" Tempest " music, 13 

Crystal Palace Concert, 13 

First work with Gilbert, 16 

His brother's death, 24 

" The Sorcerer." 42 

11 H.M.S. Pinafore," 46 

Visit to H.M.S. Victory, 49 

At rehearsals, 53 

" The Pirates of Penzance," 71 

American bandsmen, 76 

" Patience," 91 

44 Princess Ida," 1 19 

Demeanour at first night, 132 

Organist, St. Peter's, Cranky 
Gardens, 139 

In private life, 140 

On the Riviera, 1 52 

His domestic pets, 153 

Parrot stories, 153 

Entertains Prince of Wales, 197 

" Ruddigore," 239 

" The Yeomen of the Guard," 255 

A song puzzle, 266 

Refreshment at rehearsal, 268 

" The Gondoliers," 270 

Disturbs musical enthusiast, 285 

The Savoy quarrel, 287 

Letter on Alfred Cellier's death, 296 

" Haddon Hall," 299 

Reunion with Gilbert, 307 

Sullivan, Sir Arthur (amid.) : 
"Utopia," 311 
" The Chieftain," 332 
" The Grand-Duke." 333 
The English Offenbach, 339 
" The Beauty Stone," 341 
" The Golden Legend," 34s 
Letter to C. Bridgeman. 350 
First revival of "The Sorcerer," 551 
" The Rose of Persia," 353 
" The Absent-minded Beggar," 3$! 
His death, 364 
His funeral, 367 
" The Emerald Isle." 373 
Germany's appreciation, 38s 

Sullivan, Fred, 24 

Sullivan, Herbert, 368, 413 

Sullivan, Miss Jane, 368 

Sullivan, John, 368 

Sullivan, Mrs., 140, 145 

Talbot, Hugh, 75 
Taylor, J. G., 17 
Tebbutt, Henry, 182 
Temple, George, 82 
Temple, Richard, 39, 79, 104 
Terry, Edward, 176 
"Thespis," 16 
Thomas, Moy, 214 
Thome, George, 387 
Thornton, Frank, 85, 293 
Three Musketeers, The, 4 
Three Savoyards, 5 
Toole, John, 17 
Tosti, Signor, 368 
Trevor, 212 «| 

41 Trial by Jury," 22 
— in Germany, 386 
Tuer, Mr., 212 
Tanks, Leicester, 391 



Ulmar, Miss €ereldin*, 249, *f 7 
"Utopia," 311 

Vane, Miss Dorothy, 297, 305 
" Vicar of Bray, The," 294 
Vincent, Miss Ruth, 334, 347 





Wagg, Arthur, 368 
Walker, Fred, 368 
Walsh, Edward, 64 
Walsh, Shelford, 39$ 
Warde, W., 277 
Warwick, Miss Julia, 40, 43 
Westminster, Dean of, 367 
Westminster Gazette, 160 
Whistler, 213 
White, P., 256. 321,354 
Wilbraham, 255, 277 
Wilde, Oscar, 84 

Wilhelm, C, 192 
Williams, Montagu, 213 
Williamson, J. C, 399 
Wilson, Miss Ethel, 348 
Wilton, Marie, 11, 80 
Workman, C. H., 334, 407 
Wyatt, Frank, 276, 278 


Yeomen of the Guard, The" 
Production, 256 
First revival, 338 

Print** by Haull, Watson & Viney, Ld. t London end AyUsbury, England, 


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